China has denied the allegations of using prisoners for forced labour after a London schoolgirl found a message in a Christmas card allegedly from inmates at Shanghai's Qingpu Prison. After the report surfaced, British supermarket suspended production at a Chinese factory where the message, supposed to be a cry for help, was claimed to be originated from. China’s foreign ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang rebuffed the claims saying foreign convicts, at Shanghai Qingpu prison, are not forced into labour.
The message, as reported by a British daily, read that they were foreign prisoners in Shanghai Qinqpu prison and were forced to work against their will. They also urged to help, and notify the issue to human rights organisation. The author of the message had also urged the reader to inform Peter Humphrey, a former journalist who spent 23 months at the same prison and was eventually released in June 2015. The schoolgirl’s father did the same and Humphrey took it to the Sunday Times. China said that the claims are all “made up” and attacked Humphrey saying it was nothing but an attempt to “hype himself up”.
China has been accused of gross violation of human rights by several organisations, state-backed and independent, over the past few years, especially of the foreigners and minority communities. Some internal documents were leaked to an American daily, that included internal speeches by China’s President Xi Jinping and other officials, directives and reports on the surveillance and control of the Uighur Muslims in Xinjiang. After Uighur militants stabbed more than 150 people at a train station in 2014, Jinping, in a series of speeches delivered to officials, urged the party to follow America’s policy of “war on terror”.
The alleged ongoing crackdown on Uighur Muslims of Xinjiang province has drawn the attention of the world. Recently, Arsenal midfielder Mesut Ozil, a German Muslim of Turkish origin, had criticised China for human rights violations. Thousands of people marched in Instanbul against the brutal crackdown, chanted “Murderer China, get out of East Turkestan” and held placards that read ‘stop the cruelty’. In November, a dozen United Nations experts highlighted the issues around China’s counterterrorism law which have been used to gross violations of basic rights and freedoms in Xinjiang.