Changchun baby murder

Handicapped slaves freed at work site

PUBLISHED : Friday, 21 March, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 21 March, 2008, 12:00am

Police in Heilongjiang rescued more than 30 mentally and intellectually handicapped workers enslaved at a construction site in the Hulan district economic development zone last week, according to Life newspaper.

The 33 men were locked in a 30 sq metre room when officers forced their way into an apartment building in Harbin's Chang-qing street on March 13.

They slept on straw mats and were fed rice porridge, preserved vegetables and restaurant leftovers, an officer said. There were no toilets or places to wash.

Some of the slaves had been forced to carry bricks and sand at a construction site for three years and those who tried to escape had been beaten, the report said.

The raid was launched after two police academy students discovered the body of one of the workers who had leaped from the building that day. He had been beaten.

The men have accents from all over China but most were lured from Harbin's main train station.

Police arrested six suspects and issued an arrest warrant for a Hulan resident, but they did not release details about the suspects or the construction company.

In the two days after the raid, Hulan district authorities sent 26 of the men back to their hometowns in Hebei , Sichuan , Jilin and Inner Mongolia . Some of the men remained in the city and were being treated in psychiatric hospitals.

Spokesmen from the Harbin and Hulan public security bureaus said yesterday they knew nothing about the raid and they could not comment.

Last year hundreds of workers, some of them children, were found enslaved at a brick kiln in Shanxi .

The central government responded by sending out investigative teams and penalising nearly 100 city and county officials.