labor camps

What Is "Labour Camp Management Software"?

labour camp management softwareI ask this question because "labour camp management software" was one of the top search terms for my blog today. Yes, it came with the British spelling of the word, "labor". I typed the search term into Google myself, and the first page is full of websites about "camp management software." Camp management software is something I understand. I can see the need for a camp of some sort to need software so that it can manage all of campers, programs, tasks, finances, and staff much more easily. But, labour camp management software?

There IS a Market For It

Yes, North Korea has several labor camps and perhaps Kim Jong-Un and his officials could use a little help managing everything that goes on in those camps. But, why would they want software for that? It leaves a digital paper trail of all their activities, creating more proof of the human rights abuses that happen behind those walls. It would also mean that North Korea would have to get its country Internet, and if North Korea got Internet access, then the entire dictatorship would crumble. I don't know if North Korea could handle labour camp management software. I mean, I don't think there's a strong technology industry or tech-focused education in North Korea. Training people in how to use this software would be such a hassle since you might even have to train them in how to use a computer.

Perhaps I'm Thinking About This a Little Too Hard

I mean, it's very possible someone typed in this keyphrase by accident. It's possible that his/her first keyphrase started with the word, "labour". After that search, this person wanted to do another search, but managed to delete everything but the word, "labour". The next search happened to be "camp management software", and hence the funny top search term for my blog. But, if it was a mistake, then why click the link to my blog? Why pay attention to the results of a keyphrase you didn't intend to search? This reasoning makes it seem more likely that the search term was intentional, which leaves me wondering what the hell labour camp management software is and who would want to purchase this software.

Camp Management Software that Also Managed the Labour?

That's much more plausible, and if the search term were spoken into Google Hummingbird, then the search engine might have interpreted the phrase this way. Better search terms for that would be project management software, or maybe recruiting software, or something like Basecamp. Basecamp is a popular project management software brand, so it would make sense that people would search for Basecamp or something along the lines of "camp", and "software", and "management." I certainly like Basecamp a lot better than labour camp management software. I've only heard great things about Basecamp. I've only heard terrible things about labor camps.

Well, I Don't Have Labour Camp Management Software

I wouldn't have anything on this blog that would support such a product, or would support the ventures and people that would use this product. The only reason why my blog might have come up for this search term is because of the Chinese labor camps action that I wrote the other day. Supposedly, China closed its labor camps, but many aren't sure if that was just something the government said for positive press, or if the camps are actually closing, or if it's a mix between the two.

There was an article that I remember reading (but now I can't find it) that discussed North Korea's labor camps. The article said that satellite imagery showed that one or two of the camps looked deserted, and experts wondered what happened to those camps and the people in them. Perhaps that's another reason why North Korea would be a bad customer for the software: the software would document what happened to those camps and the people, and the country probably doesn't want anyone to know.

photo credit: juhansonin via photopin cc

Tell China to Put Re-Education Labor Camps in the Past

This Includes Those Who Brought Light to the Issue in The First Place

re-education through laborChina made headlines several months ago for its announcement to abolish re-education camps. These labor camps existed for over 50 years and imprisoned millions without trial, many of them are offenders of minor crimes, religious activists such as members of the Falun Gong, or are considered "political troublemakers." Part of this transition involves changing the re-education camps into drug rehabilitation centers, where many were released from the camps, except for those who were imprisoned for drug-related offenses.

This announcement sounds like great news and seems like a turnaround for the criminal justice system, but if that's the case, then why is anti-corruption activist Liu Hua detained by government officials?

Who is Liu Hua?

From 2006 to 2011, Liu Hua served three terms in the Masanjia Women’s RTL camp for her efforts to expose corruption in Zhangliangbao. Upon her release, she was interviewed as part of an investigative article for Lens, a Chinese photography magazine, which documented the appalling conditions at the camp. She was then featured in the documentary ,"The Women of Masanjia Labor Camp," directed by Du Bin. In the documentary, Hua detailed various tactics the guards used to beat female detainees.

Since then, she has been detained by public security officers in Beijing. She is currently being held at the Shenyang Number 1 Detention Centre, where she is being questioned repeatedly about the allegations of torture she made in the documentary. As someone who helped expose the abuses in China’s Re-Education Through Labor system, Liu Hua has been criminally detained on the charge of “picking quarrels and making troubles”.

To learn more about labor camps in China, then this issue brief has more information and actions regarding the re-education through labor system as well as freedom of expression in China. This issue brief was also used as the source for the information about Lin Hua. You are also welcome to watch the documentary previously mentioned, as it is placed below. This is the full documentary, with subtitles in both English and Chinese.

Write a Letter on Behalf of Liu Hua

Liu Hua has been actively outspoken for others in Masanjia Women’s RTL camp, as well as other labor camps throughout China. Her activism contributed to the resolution passed by the Chinese government to abolish the re-education through labor system. Now, it is our turn to be active on her behalf and to write a letter asking the Chinese government to release her immediately and unconditionally.

Below is a sample letter that you can copy yourself, either by writing it by hand or by printing it out, and send on behalf of Liu Hua. The sample letter includes an address and addressee, which was pulled from the previously mentioned issue brief about re-education through labor. The brief does include additional addresses and background information.

Sample Letter

Shenyang Detention Centre Director

Gaoli Cun

Zaohua Xiang

Yuhong Qu

Shengyang, China

Dear Director,

I am writing in concern for LIU HUA*, who has been criminally detained on the charge of "picking quarrels and making troubles." It is believed that she is being punished for appearing in the documentary, "The Women of Masanjia Labor Camp", which detailed torture and other ill-treatment faced by female detainees at the re-education camp.

I call on the authorities to release LIU HUA immediately and unconditionally.

Please do not penalize or criminally charge individuals who reveal information regarding human rights violations to ensure that whistle-blowers are not subjected to retaliation. Do not charge these individuals unless they are charged with an internationally recognized criminal offense. This includes LIU HUA.

Also ensure that all criminal investigations, including on corruption - which has human rights implications – follow international standards so that they are prompt, impartial, effective and that the public are informed of their conclusions.



Your Name

*The name is capitalized and underlined so it sticks out in the letter. Since we're writing a letter in English to a Chinese-speaking country, it's likely that the only words that will be recognizable in the letter is the person's name. Making the name more prominent tells the addressee who we're talking about, even if he or she won't understand the rest of the letter. This practice is common in letter-writing activism since the letters often go to countries where English isn't a predominant language.

Photo Credit: William Murphy