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Last Updated: Thursday, 20 March 2008, 10:34 GMT
Police 'bust Chinese slave-ring'
Shui Daoyu, who was rescued from an illegal brick kiln in Hongtong County of Shanxi Province after three months' slave labour
The case echoes last year's scandal involving brick kilns
Police in China have rescued 33 mentally disabled men who were forced to work as slaves at a building site, Chinese media report.

The men were said to have been discovered in a filthy 30sq m (320sq ft) room in Hulan, a city in the north-eastern province of Heilongjiang.

At least three people were detained, suspected of keeping the slaves.

College students reportedly saw a man jump to his death from a seventh-floor window, and raised the alarm.

Last year, one man was sentenced to death and 28 others were jailed for their roles in a slave labour scandal involving hundreds of people at brick factories in northern China.

Following that scandal, China announced a nationwide crackdown on enslavement and child labour.

'Beaten and terrorised'

In Hulan, police quoted by the Beijing Times said many of the 33 detainees "could not speak coherently, or clearly remember their names or where their families lived". One had apparently been held for three years.

All were said to have been rounded up at bus and train stations, and persuaded to get into cars by a gang offering work.

They were then hired out for work on local building sites.

Those who attempted to escape were "beaten and terrorised", the Beijing Times said.

A local website reports that the city's government gave money to the victims who wanted to return home, and arranged jobs for others who wanted to work in the city.

Those with serious mental disabilities were sent to local asylums, it added.



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