Purported plea from Chinese labor camp found in Halloween decorations
An Oregon woman who found a Chinese laborer's plea for help hidden in a box of Halloween decorations says she thinks the letter, which describes brutal conditions inside a work camp, is authentic.
Julie Keith, 42, of Portland, bought a Halloween graveyard kit from Kmart last year and tucked it away in a storage box. When she opened the kit this October, she found the letter tucked in between two Stryofoam headstones.
“I fully believe it is real.”
- Julie Keith
“If you occasionally buy this product, please kindly resend this letter to the World Human Right Organization,” the unsigned letter read. “Thousands people here who are under the persicution [sic] of the Chinese Communist Party Government will thank and remember you forever."
The writer said the product was made in Masanjia Labor Camp in Shenyang, China, where laborers work for 15 hours a day without time off on the weekends and holidays, making only 10 yuan ($1.61) per month.
The China director at Human Rights Watch, Sophie Richardson, told The Oregonian that the organization could not confirm the origin or authenticity of the letter.
But Keith told FoxNews.com that she thinks it isn’t a fake, after analyzing the product packaging and showing it to a Chinese co-worker at the Portland Goodwill store where she works, who said it looked authentic.
“I fully believe it is real,” she said, describing how the headstones where the letter was found inside of were sealed together and the box was closed with tape. “It had to of come from where they said.”
Keith posted an image of the letter on Facebook and said she’s been criticized online from people who fear retribution against the workers, as the letter contains their exact location at the camp they are stationed – “Unit 8, Department 2.”
But she added that she is “just trying to spread awareness.”
“It would be nice if these companies were aware of what was happening,” she said.
ICE's Homeland Security Investigations said Tuesday that it is looking into the letter, The Oregonian reported.
Keith told FoxNews.com that she spoke to ICE agents and gave them the box of decorations and the letter, but hasn’t received any updates.
Sears Holdings Corporation, which owns Kmart, said in a statement that it is also investigating the matter.
"Sears Holdings has a Global Compliance Program which helps to ensure that vendors and factories producing merchandise for our company adhere to specific Program Requirements, and all local laws pertaining to employment standards and workplace practices," the company said. "Failure to comply with any of the Program Requirements, including the use of forced labor, may result in a loss of business or factory termination.”