Open Letter to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights:
My husband, Cheng Yuan, is subjected to forced labor in ChiShan Prison and can wait no longer
Ms Michelle Bachelet
UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Palais Wilson – 52 rue des Pâquis CH-1201 Geneva (Switzerland)
Honourable High Commissioner Ms Bachelet,
18 May 2022
I am Shi Minglei (施明磊), the wife of Chinese human rights defender Cheng Yuan (程渊), who is currently being held in ChiShan Prison (湖南赤山监狱). Cheng Yuan has been arbitrarily detained by the Chinese government for more than 1,000 days. To date, lawyers and family members have been prohibited from meeting with him.
I understand that you are going to China soon to investigate the issue of concentration camps and forced labor in Xinjiang. I would like to draw your concern to the fact that forced labor is also notoriously common in the Chinese prisons. Recently, new evidence has surfaced to show that the appalling condition of the sweatshops in ChiShan prison in Hunan province where my husband, Cheng Yuan, is imprisoned and where prisoners are subjected to long hours of forced labor.
Prior to your visit, the Chinese government ratified on 20 April 2022 two international conventions against forced labor: the Forced Labor Convention, adopted in 1930, and the Abolition of Forced Labor Convention adopted in 1957. Accordingly, China has the legal obligation to accept the monitoring by the international community and immediately disclose the conditions of its prisons to assure the world the personal safety, physical and mental well-beings of the detainees.
Unfortunately, the real situation of forced labour is abhorrent in the prisons in China. Mr. Lee Ming-cheh (李明哲), a Taiwanese recently released from the ChiShan Prison, has revealed the seriousness of forced labor in that prison in a press conference he held on 10 May 2022.
- Prolonged hours of forced labor
Inmates in custody work 11-12 hours a day, and in some quarters even 13 to 15 hours a day. There are only four days of rest per year.
Although there are chemical substances, harmful gases and dust pollution in the work- place, the prisoners are lack of basic protection, resulting in damage to their health and even leaving them with permanent occupational health issues.
There are chemicals harmful to human body in the respective sweatshop floors where shoe soles and electronic products are manufactured. But prisoners are only provided with or- dinary masks or even fabric masks that are meant to be washed and reused. Only when leaders come to inspect the prison that they would be given disposable medical masks. However, none of these masks provide sufficient protection against harmful dust or chem- icals in that environment.
Mr. Lee Ming-cheh has confirmed that the workload in the sweatshop floors in the ChiShan Prison is massive and it has remained so for a long time. He also noted that the workload increased drastically after prison director Liu Dongwei (刘冬伟) took office. The problem in the ChiShan Prison was not only about forced labor which Mr. Lee Ming-cheh confirmed. It was also about torture. The ChiShan Prison (also known as Yuan Jiang 沅江) was also where Mr. Li Wangyang (李旺阳) was detained during the final years ofhis life. Shortly before Li Wangyang was “suicided” in June 2012, he recounted his horrific experiences being tortured in an interview with a TV journalist from Hong Kong. We recall also in as early as 2004, a group of 241 family members of the FLG practitioners filed a joint complaint the ChiShan Prison for torturing FLG followers and for its pro- longed hours of labour.
I shudder at the thoughts that the shoes, clothes, and electronic products that you and I purchase far away from China could be manufactured by my husband Cheng Yuan and his colleague,
Wu Gejianxiong (吴葛健雄), who is also jailed in ChiShan where both are subjected to long hours of forced labor in harsh conditions. My heart bleeds when I think of him working in aprison sweatshop filled with toxic gases and chemicals.
My husband, Cheng Yuan, is the founder of Changsha Funeng_(长沙富能), a non-govern-mental non-profit organization on human rights advocacy. For more than a decade, he advocated and worked to implement the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, the UN Convention on the Rights of Women and Children, and the UN Convention against Torture in China, striving to improve the situation of the disadvantaged in the country. He is one of the leading advocates for the abolition of the family planning policies in China, and has conducted extensive work on research, studies, legislative advocacy and legal aid. He also took part in UN meetings multiple times to share his views and contribute to the betterment and implementation of the conventions.
Cheng Yuan suffered insomnia before he was arrested. His family has a history of inherited cardiovascular disease and diabetes, and he also has cervical spondylosis and lumbar strain. Now that he is in ChiShan Prison, reportedly with 13-15 hours of forced labor per day, plus sleep deprivation as inmates are not allowed to turn off the lights, I am very worried that my husband would have collapsed before he could make it out of the prison!
We, myself and Cheng Yuan’s sister, father and brother, hope that you, Madam Commissioner, will intervene into the matter and demand the Chinese government to immediately stop all forms of forced labour in all the prisons in China, and in particular, that in the ChiShan Prison.
At the same time, we earnestly plead that you and your team will express your concern on the case of Cheng Yuan, with regard to his health and living conditions. We urge that ChiShan Prison immediately arrange for Cheng Yuan to meet his family members including his sister, brother and father,
ChiShan Prison immediately stop all forms of forced labour on Cheng Yuan,
Arrangements be made for Cheng Yuan to have medical examination to ensure his right to health; and
His rights to communicate free with his family in writing and through phone calls be protected in accordance to the law in China.
Chinese original on the next page
威尔逊宫– 52 rue des Pâquis
CH-1201 日内瓦 (瑞士)
我是目前被关在赤山监狱的长沙富能 NGO 工作者程渊的妻子施明磊。程渊已经被中国政府任意羁押 1000 多天。至今被禁止律师会见，被禁止家属探视。
中国政府在您和您的团队到达前，中国于 2022 年 4 月 20 日批准了两项反对强迫劳动的国际公约，分别为 1930 年通过的《强迫劳动公约》以及 1957 年通过的《废除强迫劳动公约》。就此中国有法律义务接受国际社会的监督，即时公开其监狱的状况，确保被囚人士的安全和身心健康。
但很遗憾的是在中国监狱内，强迫劳动的实际情况令人发指。近日台湾李明哲从赤山监狱出狱，在 5 月 10 日发布记者会，揭发了赤山监狱的强迫劳动的情况十分严重:
在押的囚犯每天要劳动 11-12 个小 时，有几个监区甚至每天劳动 13-15 个小时。一年只有 4 天休息时间。
赤山监狱做鞋底成型的车间和做电子产品的车间有对人体有害的化学物质，囚犯 戴的却是普通的口罩，甚至是布料做成的口罩，需要时常换洗，只有监狱有领导来视察时才会发一次行的医用口罩。而两者都不是专业的防护粉尘和有毒气体的 口罩。
不但李明哲先生证实湖南赤山监狱的强迫劳动的问题，赤山(沅江)更是李旺阳 曾经所在的监狱，李旺阳在 2012 年 6 月被自杀前曾向香港媒体详述在狱中被酷刑虐待的各种恐怖经历。早於 2004 年更有 241 位法轮功家属联名控告湖南赤山监狱 酷刑虐待法轮功学员以及长时间强迫劳动的问题。
我不敢想象，也许今天您我在海外买的鞋子，衣服，电子产品，是我先生程渊和他的 同事吴葛健雄在环境恶劣的赤山监狱被长期强迫劳动做出来的。我想到他在赤山监狱 充满有毒气体和化学物质的车间工作的场景，我的心在滴血。
我的先生程渊是长沙富能 NGO 机构的创始人，程渊是联合国人权公约的积极实践者，过去十几年他致力于中国的弱势群体平权，他在中国倡导和实践《联合国残疾人公约》 《联合国妇女儿童权利公约》 《联合国禁止酷刑公约》等公约，以此来改善中国 弱势群体的生存现状。他是废除计划生育政策的主要倡导者之一，他为中国人的生育 权的回归做了大量的调查，研究，立法倡导，法律援助的工作，并多次参与联合国的 研讨会，为公约的完善和实施提出有建设性的意见。
程渊在被抓之前，有失眠的问题，他的家族有遗传的心脑血管病和糖尿病病史，同时 他有颈椎病和腰肌劳损。现在他在赤山监狱，每日 13-15 个小时的强迫劳动，加上不允许关灯的睡眠虐待，我十分担心他撑不到出狱身体就垮掉了!
施明磊 谨启 二零二二年五月十八日