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13 Okt 2023

RFA Uyghur

China: Former prison employees allege forced labour and exploitation of Uyghur inmates in Keriye Prison, Xinjiang

"Uyghur inmates forced to work on farmland leased to Chinese" 13 October 2023

Hundreds of Uyghur inmates at Keriye Prison in the far-western Chinese region of Xinjiang are forced to work 12-14 hours a day in vast fields of red dates called jujubes, a prison employee and a guard told Radio Free Asia.

Under the watch of armed guards, the prisoners must walk to the fields while overseers wearing red vests and holding police dogs monitor them, the two people said. Armed soldiers surrounded the work area, some on horseback, to prevent any from escaping.

“I witnessed prisoners being forcibly taken out to work during the day and returned to their cells at night,” said the prison employee – a Uyghur himself – who has worked at the prison for nine years, including one as a “team leader” of a group of inmates...

Many inmates also work in factories located inside and outside the prison walls producing cement, shoes, gloves and tea, a prison guard told RFA Uyghur...

The work was arduous and painful, he said. Before the fields were converted to jujubes, they produced cotton, and he recalls seeing some inmates picking cotton worked until their hands bled...

Many Han Chinese from Henan province and Xian, capital of Shaanxi province in northwestern China, rent the prison land under three-to-four-year contracts, the team leader said.

Under an agreement between prison administration and the factory owners, the Chinese owners pay the prison for using the forced labor, he said.

“Some factories have 200 to 300, or even 500 workers,” said the guard. “In the factory where I work, we have around 1,670 workers.”...

Part of the following timelines

China: 83 major brands implicated in report on forced labour of ethnic minorities from Xinjiang assigned to factories across provinces; Includes company responses

China: Mounting concerns over forced labour in Xinjiang