Halloween horror-note writer surfaces
AMERICAN Julie Keith was faced with a real-life horror story two years ago when she tore open the packaging of cut-price Halloween decorations she bought from Kmart.
A letter which fell out of the Halloween toy set, written in broken English and Chinese, appealed to the buyer for help.
"If you occasionally (sic) buy this product, please kindly resend this letter to the World Human Right Organization. Thousands people here... will thank and remember you forever," the author wrote.
The letter then detailed hellish conditions in the notorious Masanjia labour camp in China where they worked 15 hours every day for 10 yuan ($2) a month.
After getting little response from official channels, Mrs Keith finally posted the letter on Facebook, and the story was picked up by a local newspaper.
Two years later, the author of the letter has finally come out into the open, recounting how he wrote the letter in a CNN interview.
"Mr Zhang", who was released from camp, requested that CNN conceal his identity as he fears being imprisoned again.
He told CNN that he wrote the letter while lying sideways in bed, pretending to sleep while a guard was in their cell. It took him three days to write each letter.
The college graduate had studied English in school but was not fluent. He wrote in English as he figured that the products were meant for export to Western countries, but mixed in Chinese as he was afraid his message would be misunderstood.
He smuggled 20 letters into the Halloween toys, but so far only one has been found.
A Falungong follower, he was detained by police in 2008 and sentenced to 21/2 years in the camp in north-eastern China.
He said that inmates were subject to sleep deprivation, beatings and torture, with details so gory that CNN did not specify them. Other inmates have given similar accounts in prior interviews.