Mentally disabled people sold as `bonded labourers` in China
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Last Updated: Tuesday, December 14, 2010, 22:20
Beijing: Chinese authorities have busted a racket where mentally disabled people were allegedly sold as bonded labourers to a "chemical factory" in the country's south-western Sichuan province.

Zeng Lingquan, the owner of the shelter for the mentally disabled in Sichuan, was detained for allegedly selling people under his care to a "construction chemical factory" to work as bonded labourers.

Zeng was suspected of selling mentally disabled people staying at his shelter in Quxian county to a factory in Toksun county of north-western China's Xinjiang province where they were "enslaved", the publicity department of the local government said.

More than 10 workers were treated badly during the past three to four years in the plant, including eight mentally disabled people, officials told state-run Xinhua news agency.

The factory in Toksun county had been shut down, Yang Jin, ruling Communist Party secretary and deputy head of the county, told the media.

Li Xinglin, owner of the factory, fled to the south western Sichuan province on Sunday, taking about a dozen mentally disabled workers with him.

"Once the workers are rescued, the local government will order the company to give them compensation," Yang said.

Li's wife is currently in police custody. The action was initiated against the factory following reports in the media.

The reports quoted Li as saying that his workers were from Quxian county's shelter for beggars in southwest China's Sichuan province.

The shelter, also called the disabled self-reliance group, was an adoption agency for the physically and mentally disabled, organised by local farmer Zeng.

Quxian county beggar shelter in Sichuan province had never registered with the local authorities, Wang Yong, director of Civil Affairs Bureau of Quxian county said.

This is an illegal profit-making organisation, which is not a rescue station, nor a charity house, Zhang Tao, director of Department of Civil Affairs in Sichuan province said.

The treatment of the mentally ill people as reported by local media has caused public outrage across the country, Xinhua reported.

In 2007, 32 people were found to have been enslaved in a brick kiln in Shanxi province from March to late May of that year. One person died and 18 suffered injuries as a result.


First Published: Tuesday, December 14, 2010, 22:20

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