Two labor watchdog officers were arrested by local police in
Yongji City, Shanxi Province, in an investigation seeking
to shed light on the kiln slavery scandal.
Hou Junyuan, head of the labor inspection team for Yongji City's
Labor and Social Security Bureau, faces accusations of dereliction
of duty and was detained on Thursday afternoon. The news of his
arrest came as another officer from his team, Shang Guangze, has
been sacked and detained on charges of abuse of power.
Details of the case are still under investigation but it has
emerged that the two were responsible for press-ganging an
under-age laborer from Henan Province to another kiln for work when
he was supposed to be sent back home.
So far, police have arrested 168 people and are searching for
over 20 other suspects connected to the forced labor revelations.
By Sunday night, around 45,000 policemen had raided over 8,000
kilns and coal mine in Shanxi and Henan, freeing 591 workers,
including 51 children.
The criminals face a range of charges going beyond illegal
employment practices, as they also stand accused of abduction,
using child labor and potentially murder.
(Xinhua News Agency June 22, 2007)