Eleven arrested over China 'slavery'


Chinese police have detained 11 people linked to a brick kiln in Hebei province where workers were treated like slaves, forced to work long hours, deprived of sleep and given electric shocks, a local newspaper reported.

A man surnamed Song from neighbouring Shanxi province escaped from the kiln this month and alerted police. They discovered another 34 people working there as slaves, the Yanzhao Metropolis Daily said in a weekend report on its website

The report said the owners of the kiln, not far from China's capital Beijing, were among those detained.

The case recalled a scandal in 2007 that elicited public outrage when Chinese media found at least 1,000 people forced to work as slaves in brick kilns in Shanxi province, following a father's desperate search for his missing teenage son. Many of the brick kiln slaves were mentally handicapped.

After that case, the government vowed to root out the practice, but occasional media reports since of new slave cases show it has continued, in part due to the strong demand for construction materials to fuel China's real estate boom.

Some Chinese traffickers deliberately targeted mentally handicapped people from the poor countryside, luring them into dangerous employment contracts and sometimes even killing them in mine accidents to get compensation in the southwestern province of Sichuan, some media reported last year.