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A Re-Education Through Labour Camp is a prison for a person who has committed a non-criminal offense like practicing religion such as Falun Gong, using drugs, or anything deemed anti-communist.
The process is intended to reform “offenders” into compliant citizens by restricting their freedom, forcing them to carry out manual labour and subjecting them to brainwashing techniques.
01. Living Conditions
- Prisoners sleep on the floor with only a 12 inch wide space each, with over 10 prisoners per room.
- No furniture is provided.
- Bed bugs and lice are very common and are not treated leading to serious infestations.
- A bucket is used as a latrine; new prisoners are forced to sleep nearest to it.
- Food consists of gruel, bread, and a watery vegetable soup made from the cheapest vegetables available.
- Prisoners are issued a uniform which they are to wear for the duration of their detention.
- They are given only one pair of shoes made of rubber or plastic, which must hold up through their long 12-17 hour shifts in the factory.
- Prisoners must purchase underclothes, socks, hats, and jackets with their meagre earnings of less than approx. 2.00$ USD a month.
- A water basin is the only thing provided for washing, of which there are few.
- Basic essentials like toothbrushes, toothpaste, toilet paper, soap, and towels, are not provided. Prisoners must purchase them at exorbitant prices.
- Diseases are rampant including diet related illness like Scurvy and Edema.
- More serious outbreaks of tuberculosis and hepatitis are common, which left untreated can be fatal.
- Prisoners are often forced to work when they are very ill due to the poor conditions.
04. Prison System
- The camps were started in 1957 and since then it is estimated that more than 50 million people have been imprisoned in them.
- At the end of 2009, there were 320 confirmed active labour camps in China that held over 190,000 prisoners.
- Detention periods are typically from one to four years, but reports suggest they are often longer.
- The recipient of a sentence has no right to a hearing, counsel, or judicial determination of their case.