A Chinese whistleblower who alleges he was imprisoned and tortured for two years after he revealed substandard working conditions in factories producing Amazon products is now asking the Jeff Bezos-owned company for an apology.
Tang Mengfing reportedly spent two years in prison after exposing the working conditions inside Foxconn factories producing the company’s Alexa-enabled devices, including the Amazon Echo and Echo Dot. The factory also manufactures Kindle devices. Tang told The Guardian that he was beaten and tortured by Chinese authorities during his imprisonment.
Tang alleged that school-aged children were put to work in the Foxconn factory, and that many were forced to work beyond the allotted 36 hours of overtime in a month, with some exceeding over 100 hours – essentially functioning as unpaid workers beyond their allotted hours.
“My father always taught me that I should be a good person and, because I followed my heart and believed that justice should be served, I reported the serious violations at Hengyang Foxconn. Yet my imprisonment has caused such great harm to me and my family,” he said.
As a result of Tang’s whistleblowing, Amazon investigated the factory and Foxconn was fined by the Chinese government for labor violations. However, The Guardian reports that Tang says the company should have done more to protect him from reprisals from local authorities, whom he says tortured him.
Tang alleges he was handcuffed in stress positions, slapped, and beaten, and forced to sign a confession admitting he was lying to the allegations he made against the Foxconn factory.
“I refused to sign seven times, and they got angry and handcuffed me to the bottom of the iron frame, unable to stand, squat, sit; only bending, half squatting all night. In the early morning, I could not stand anymore,” he told The Guardian.
“I think Amazon should give me an explanation, tell me if I really deserve to be sent to jail?” he said. “If not, Amazon should give me an apology, along with its partner, Foxconn, to assist me to appeal for a redress, and provide compensation.”
China Labor Watch director Li Qiang wrote to Amazon owner Jeff Bezos urging him to intervene on behalf of Tang, stating it is “unacceptable and unfair that Tang Mingfang is serving jail time for trying to help Amazon improve the labour conditions in its supplier factory.”
He says Bezos had not responded to the letter and Amazon had not offered any support for Tang.
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