This isn't the first time an unsuspecting customer has found a handwritten note such as this one.
While perusing purses to buy at a Walmart located in Sierra Vista, Arizona, a woman named Laura Wallace was stunned to find a note supposedly written by a prison laborer from China. The piece of paper, found tucked inside the zipper compartment, read:
“Inmates in the Yingshan Prison in Guangxi, China are working 14 hours daily with no break/rest at noon, continue working overtime until 12 midnight, and whoever doesn’t finish his work will be beaten. Their meals are without oil and salt. The boss pays the inmate 2000 yuan, any additional dishes will be finished by the police. If the inmates are sick and need medicine, the cost will be deducted from the salary. Prison in China is unlike prison in America, horse cow goat pig dog (literally, means inhumane treatment).”
According to Wallace, the plea was translated by two individuals to ensure it was accurate.
“Two other people translated the note to make sure the message was accurate,” said Wallace.
Though it is unclear at this time whether or not the note is valid or a ruse, Wallace decided to speak out nonetheless to raise awareness about the situation.
“I don’t want this to be an attack on any store,” Wallace commented. “That’s not the answer. This is happening at all kinds of places and people just probably don’t know.”
In response to the incident, Walmart issued the following statement to KVOA:
“We can’t comment specifically on this note, because we have no way to verify the origin of the letter, but one of our requirements for suppliers is all work should be voluntary as indicated in our Standards for Suppliers.”
This isn’t the first time a note such as this one has been discovered by customers. In September 2012, a New York City woman found a handwritten note pleading for help inside a shopping bag she bought at Saks Fifth Avenue. The individual who wrote that note, later identified as Tohnain Emmanuel Njong, is a Cameroonian national who was imprisoned under fraud charges in the city of Qingdao when he wrote it. Part of that note read:
“We are ill-treated and work like slaves for 13 hours every day producing these bags in bulk in the prison factory.”
Njong was released in December 2013. However, one month later, a woman in Oregon found a prisoner’s letter inside a box of decorations for Halloween she purchased at Walmart. The letter asked anyone who discovered it to notify the World Human Rights Organization. The person who wrote it scribed,
“Thousands people here who are under the persecution of the Chinese Communist Party Government will thank and remember you forever.”
Neither of those instances has been debunked, which leads one to believe that this latest note is valid, as well. Considering Walmart has been criticized for exploiting its workers in the past by the advocacy group China Labor Watch, nothing is outside of the realm of possibilities. Li Qiang, the group’s executive director, told Snopes on May 2, 2017, that it is “rare for prison laborers to attempt to communicate their situation for fear of punishment.”
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