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Tesco charity Christmas cards are ‘packed by Chinese prison SLAVES’

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Tesco charity Christmas cards are ‘packed by Chinese prison SLAVES’: Girl, six, discovers chilling note from Shanghai inmates inside £1.50 box

  • Desperate plea from inmates in Chinese Qingpu prison calls for help
  • Inmates write they are forced to work against their will at the Shanghai prison
  • Tesco charity Christmas card pack is sold to raise £300,000 for charities

A six-year-old schoolgirl has discovered a chilling plea from inmates of a Chinese prison scrawled inside a charity Christmas card from a £1.50 pack sold by Tesco.

The message, which says it is from foreign prisoners in Shanghai’s Qingpu prison, says they were forced to work ‘against our will’ and urgently calls for help from human rights organisations.

The cry for help from cards sold by Zheijiang Yunguang Printing throws a spotlight on the plight of thousands in Chinese prisons, as well as the supply chain behind Tesco’s card selection that raises £300,000 for the British Heart Foundation, Cancer Research UK and Diabetes UK.

Florence Widdicombe from Tooting, south London, opened a card featuring a kitten in a Santa hat, but found a secret handwritten message inside

Florence Widdicombe from Tooting, south London, opened a card featuring a kitten in a Santa hat, but found a secret handwritten message inside

The six-year-old schoolgirl found a desperate plea from inmates at Chinese Qingpu prison, Shanghai, inside this Tesco charity Christmas card

The six-year-old schoolgirl found a desperate plea from inmates at Chinese Qingpu prison, Shanghai, inside this Tesco charity Christmas card

The inmates had written this cry for help in the card, which was addressed to former inmate Peter Humphrey

The inmates had written this cry for help in the card, which was addressed to former inmate Peter Humphrey

Peter Humphrey said he was arrested by the Chinese government while working as a corporate fraud investigator. He was held in Qingpu prison for nine months

Peter Humphrey said he was arrested by the Chinese government while working as a corporate fraud investigator. He was held in Qingpu prison for nine months

The heartbreaking plea was found by Florence Widdicombe from Tooting, south London, when she opened the card featuring a kitten in a Santa hat.

‘We are foreign prisoners in Shanghai Qingpu prison China,’ the message reads in block capitals, reports the Sunday Times.

‘Forced to work against our will. Please help us and notify human rights organisations’. 

The note was addressed to former inmate Peter Humphrey, who was held in the prison for two years when he upset authorities while working in Shanghai as a corporate fraud investigator.

‘My activities upset the Chinese government,’ he wrote, ‘which jailed both me and my American wife, Yu Yingzeng, on bogus charges that were never heard in court’. 

Florence Widdicombe, 6, pictured with three charity Christmas cards and the card that the message was found in.

They are sold to raise £300,000 for the British Heart Foundation, Diabetes UK and Cancer Research UK

Florence Widdicombe, 6, pictured with three charity Christmas cards and the card that the message was found in. They are sold to raise £300,000 for the British Heart Foundation, Diabetes UK and Cancer Research UK

Peter Humphrey and his wife Yu Yingzeng, pictured together, were held by Chinese authorities on charges that were never heard in court

Peter Humphrey and his wife Yu Yingzeng, pictured together, were held by Chinese authorities on charges that were never heard in court

A picture on a government website shows what it claims is the entrance to Shanghai's Qingpu prison

A picture on a government website shows what it claims is the entrance to Shanghai’s Qingpu prison

A former inmate told Mr Humphrey, after they got in contact, that inmates have been forced to package Tesco Christmas cards, and also Tesco gift tags, for at least two years.

‘The foreign prisoners just package the cards. They pick different designs, put them into boxes, seal them and pack them into shipping containers.’ 

Mr Humphrey added that his contact with prisoners there had been lost after censorship had increased.

Florence found the card while writing her sixth or eighth card when she saw ‘somebody had already written it’, reports BBC News.

‘It made me feel shocked,’ she said, as her father Ben said he felt ‘incredulity’ when he first saw the message and thought it was some kind of prank.

‘But on reflection we realised it was potentially quite a serious thing,’ he said.

‘I felt very shocked but also felt a responsibility to pass it on to Peter Humphrey as the author asked me to do. 

‘There is something about that message hitting home at Christmas… taht really does make it very poignant and very powerful.’ 

With love from a Chinese prison? Briton finds note from Chinese inmate at Guangzhou Prison in Sainsbury’s Christmas card

A handwritten note from an inmate at a Gunagzhou prison was found in a Sainsbury’s Christmas card in 2017.

Jessica Rigby, 27, from Essex, was shocked to discover the note scrawled in Mandarin inside the shop-bought card.

Sainsbury’s is one of Britain’s largest supermarket chains and had been running an ad campaign themed around #everybitofChristmas that year.

The note wished the recipient a happy Christmas, and was signed ‘Third Product Shop, Guangzhou Prison, Number 6 District’.

Rigby said at the time: ‘If they are genuinely made by Chinese prisoners what’s to say other things (Sainsbury’s) sell aren’t made by child labour and stuff like that?’

Sainsbury’s said in a statement: ‘All our suppliers have to meet our high welfare standards and strict Code of Conduct for Ethical Trade.

‘We can also reassure Jessica that our Christmas cards are not produced in Chinese prisons.’

The note threw the spotlight onto how cards are produced and packaged in China. 

Tesco said in a statement it was ‘shocked’ by the message and said that production at the factory had been suspended pending an investigation by an expert ‘in-country team’.

‘We abhor the use of prison labour and would never allow it in our supply chain,’ they said.

The major high street retailer said it has also withdrawn cards from this factory from sale while it carries out an investigation.

When the factory was audited last month, Tesco also said it found no evidence to suggest they had broken the rule on banning the use of prison labour.

Charity Christmas cards will remain on sale at the supermarket that were supplied by different factories.

The British Heart Foundation told MailOnline they were ‘shocked’ by the note and had been assured that these particular cards ‘had been removed from sale’.

It allegedly came from Shanghai's Qingpu prison, where a government website says inmates are forced to undertake duties including labour work and so-called education reforms. This image from the prisomn shows inmates attending a Chinese lesson in December 2006

It allegedly came from Shanghai’s Qingpu prison, where a government website says inmates are forced to undertake duties including labour work and so-called education reforms. This image from the prisomn shows inmates attending a Chinese lesson in December 2006

Mr Peter Humphrey was held in the prison for nine months while he was detained in China for two years. Pictured above is an inmate at the prison in December 2006

Mr Peter Humphrey was held in the prison for nine months while he was detained in China for two years. Pictured above is an inmate at the prison in December 2006

A former inmate pictured making a sailboat model for Christmas at the Qingpu prison in December 2006. A former inmate has alleged that they have been making cards and gift tags for Tesco for two years at the prison

A former inmate pictured making a sailboat model for Christmas at the Qingpu prison in December 2006. A former inmate has alleged that they have been making cards and gift tags for Tesco for two years at the prison

Humphrey and his American wife Yu Yingzeng were both sentenced in China in 2014 for illegally obtaining private records of Chinese citizens and selling the information to clients including drugmaker GlaxoSmithKline. The couple were deported from China in June 2015 after their jail terms were reduced.

Zheijiang Yunguang Printing is based 60 miles from Qingpu prison. 

The company, which prints cards and books for food and pharmaceutical companies, says on its website it supplies Tesco.

Two phone calls and one emailed request for comment to the company went unanswered after usual business hours on Sunday, reports Reuters.

The prison, open since 1994, is staffed with more than 500 police officers and comprises mainly inmates that have been given fixed term sentences of at least seven years, according to a Chinese government website.

Prisoners have duties including labour work, so-called education reforms, prison management and safety measures.

The prison also aims to ‘rectify bad habits’ and ‘cultivating consciousness in laws and regulations’.

Any mentions of Tesco in Chinese published in the last 24 hours were cleared from the internet this morning. 

The back of the Qingpu prison, as claimed by a government website. Foreign prisoners are held at this prison

The back of the Qingpu prison, as claimed by a government website. Foreign prisoners are held at this prison

An entrance to the Qingpu prison in Shanghai, China. The prison says online it puts inmates through labour work and so-called education reforms

An entrance to the Qingpu prison in Shanghai, China. The prison says online it puts inmates through labour work and so-called education reforms

It comes after a note wishing shoppers a merry Christmas was found in a Sainsbury’s Christmas card in 2017 after it was purchased by Jessica Rigby, 27, from Essex.

The note wished the recipient a happy Christmas, and was signed ‘Third Product Shop, Guangzhou Prison, Number 6 District’. 

Rigby said at the time: ‘If they are genuinely made by Chinese prisoners what’s to say other things (Sainsbury’s) sell aren’t made by child labour and stuff like that?’

Sainsbury’s said in a statement: ‘All our suppliers have to meet our high welfare standards and strict Code of Conduct for Ethical Trade.

MailOnline has contacted the Cancer Research UK and Diabetes UK for comment.

Desperate message calling for help from the Human Rights Organisation found stuffed between Halloween styrofoam headstones leads Chinese re-education camp to close down 

A desperate message calling for help from the Human Rights Organisation found among Halloween graves sold at Kmart in 2012 eventually caused the closure of a Chinese re-education camp.

Mother-of-two Julie Kieth, from Portland, US, uncovered the heartbreaking note detailing horrendous working conditions at the Masanjia labour camp from an individual known as Mr Zhang, who followed the banned Falun Gong movement.

He risked his life to send the message in 2008, but it was only uncovered once he had been released.

Julie Keith helped expose conditions in a Chinese labour camp after finding a note from a prisoner inside a box of Halloween decorations

Julie Keith helped expose conditions in a Chinese labour camp after finding a note from a prisoner inside a box of Halloween decorations

The letter, pictured, came in a box of Halloween decorations purchased in Oregon

The letter, pictured, came in a box of Halloween decorations purchased in Oregon

The cry for help reads: ‘Sir: If you occasionally buy this product, please kindly resend this letter to the World Human Right Organisation. Thousands people here who are under the persecution of the Chinese Communist Party Government will thank and remember you forever.

‘This product produced by Unit 8, Department 2, Mashanjla Labour Camp, Shen Young, Liaoning, China.

‘People who work here have to work 15 hours a day without Saturday (or) Sunday break and any holidays, otherwise they will suffer torturement [sic], beat and rude remark, nearly no payment (10 Yuan/one month).

‘People who work here suffer punishment 1-3 years averagely, but without court sentence. Many of them are Falun Gong practitioners who are totally innocent people. Only because they have different believe [sic] to the CCPG, they often suffer more punishment than others.’

The letter was folded into eighths and hidden amongst the the Styrofoam headstones in the Totally Ghoul product, pictured

The letter was folded into eighths and hidden amongst the the Styrofoam headstones in the Totally Ghoul product, pictured

After the letter’s discovery Mr Zhang, who had by then been freed and travelled to the US, thanked Ms Kieth.

She told CNN that she now checks labels on all goods in order to avoid buying things that she doesn’t need, especially if they are made in China. 

Primark shopper finds distressing letter from ‘Chinese torture victim’ hidden in a pair of socks he bought from the budget store

Shahkiel Akbar pictured holding up the note and the socks it was found with

Shahkiel Akbar pictured holding up the note and the socks it was found with

A Primark shopper found a distressing letter inside a pair of socks which claimed to be from a Chinese torture victim in 2015.

Shahkiel Akbar discovered the note hidden in the black cotton-rich socks which he bought from the budget chain’s store in the Metrocentre, Newcastle.

When he translated the note into English, Mr Akbar found what appeared to be a desperate cry for help from a man who claims to have been tortured after being framed for blackmail and fraud.

It read: ‘I was falsely accused and set up for fraud and blackmail by and illegally sentenced on June 29, 2014, by Lingbi County People’s Court for three years in jail.

‘At present I am forcefully detained at Lingbi County detention centre. My body and mind have been subjected to extreme torture and damage!

‘Whoever sees this letter, please give it to national government leader President Xi Jingping, Premier Li Keqiang or expose this through a journalist or media! My wife and I have both been paralysed!’

The Primark shopper found the note at Metrocentre, Newcastle, with black socks

The Primark shopper found the note at Metrocentre, Newcastle, with black socks

Primark insists the company has found notes through the UK and that is part of a hoax.

Mr Akbar said: ‘I knew it was something sinister when I saw it. I was really shocked. I do feel responsible now I have found this. I just thought I need to shout it out.’

After finding the letter, Mr Akbar, 24, took it to his local Chinese takeaway to see if staff could translate it for him. When the owner said he was Korean and could not read Chinese, Mr Akbar used an app on the phone to translate the words into English. 

Tesco charity Christmas cards are ‘packed by Chinese prison SLAVES’

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