By: Juliet Song
When Shahkiel Akbar brought home a pair of black cotton socks from Primark, a
budget retailer in the United Kingdom, he didn’t expect to discover a cry for help written in Chinese.
That’s just what he found, though. Dated June 22 this year, the letter, written with black pen on lined paper, claimed to be from a Chinese victim of torture named Ding Tingkun.
“Currently I am forcefully detained at the Lingbi County Detention Center. My body and mind suffers severe torture and persecution,” the note reads in part.
Tens days before Akbar’s discovery, the father of Lucy Kirk, another Primark customer, found a similar note written by the same Ding Tingkun, dated June 29, after buying a pair of socks from a Primark branch in Huddersfield, a small city in the middle of the U.K., British media reported.
“My wife is detained in a mental hospital by force … my father was murdered in Damiao Village hospital on May 22, 2014!” that note read.
The SOS letter from Ding Tingkun, who claims to be a Chinese victim of torture. (Courtesy of Lucy Kirk)
The notes bore an eerie resemblance to a prison letter found in a Halloween graveyard set by Julie Keith, a donations manager at Goodwill, in 2013. That letter, written in broken English, was from the notorious Masanjia Women’s Labor Camp in northeast China, where extreme forms of torture were developed to crush the beliefs of practitioners of Falun Gong, a spiritual discipline heavily persecuted by China’s Communist Party.
The timing of the Oregon discovery shone an international spotlight on forced labor in Chinese labor camps.
But in this instance Primark, the retail group, denied the idea that the letter was from an individual working in conditions of forced labor in China. The company claimed that the letter was part of an elaborate hoax to “gain publicity.” [FULL STORY]