Thursday, May 26, 2005

Tears Over Chopsticks

I love Chinese food and so do my friends and relatives. My favorite is "Dim Sum" which originated from Guangdong Province.

I was having dim sum with my son-in-law two weeks ago. The minute we sat down, he eagerly picked up the paper wrapped chopsticks, tore the paper off and was ready to try. He immediately noticed that I was hesitant even to touch the chopsticks next to me, and he wanted to know why.

I told him that the chopsticks we used were most likely made in China. It was wrapped with plain paper without any printing to indicate the manufacture or the location etc. Then I told him the possibility of how and where the chopsticks were made in China.

I have read so often how inmates were treated in prisons or forced labor camps in China, and I also read many times how chopsticks were made in the labor camps by Falun Gong practitioners who were there. It was reported that they had to work 12-15 hours a day in their cells, where chopsticks were all over the bed and floor. If the chopsticks accidentally fell into the toilet, one had to pick them out and package them as usual because every pair had to be accounted for. One had to package 8,000-10,000 pair a day to meet the quota. Quotas varied slightly among labor camps . If an inmate failed to meet the quota, regardless of any excuses, he/she would be severely punished, such as being deprived of food or sleep, severe beatings, and being forced to stay outside in cold weather with a single layer of clothing.

Labor camps in China are truly hells on earth, and the sanitary conditions are beyond anyone's imagination.
Everyone at the labor camp is eventually afflicted with either body lice, scabbies, or other contagious skin disorders. Pus and blood oozing from the skin is the norm and not the exception. And, of course, inmates receive no medical treatment for such minor disorders.

The images of inmates at the labor camps pop up, often when I am presented with a pair of chopsticks wrapped in paper. I wished I could stop their pain and suffering, but I know that it won't happen just by my wishful thinking or my tears over the chopsticks. What I am doing now is to tell everyone of their suffering, and perhaps, when the compassion starts to fill our hearts, then something magical will begin to happen.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is quite an eye-opening story.

2:52 PM  

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