Girl (6) finds message from prisoner inside Christmas card from China
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    Girl (6) finds message from prisoner inside Christmas card from China

    The card (not pictured) was sold at the UK supermarket Tesco. Credit: U.S. Air Force photo

    British supermarket giant Tesco announced it has ceased producing Christmas cards at a factory in China on Sunday after a message from a prisoner who works there was discovered.

    The Sunday Times reported a six-year-old girl from a south London suburb found the message, written in capital letters, which claimed to be from prisoners incarcerated at Qingpu prison in Shanghai.  

    The message was found inside a card with an illustration of a kitten wearing a Santa hat on the front. “We are foreign prisoners in Shanghai Qingpu prison. Forced to work against our will. Please help us and notify human rights organisation,” the handwritten note said.

    Tesco, the number one British supermarket, is said to be “shocked” and a spokesman said it has “immediately suspended production at the factory where these cards are made and launched an investigation.” 

    “We have also stopped selling these cards,” the spokesman added. The range of cards was reserved for charity fundraising. 

    “We are strongly against forced labour and never allow it within our chain of production,” they continued. 

    Tesco’s spokesman said it has “a thorough auditing system.” The supermarket revealed the factory concerned is Zheijiang Yunguang Printing and it was subject to an “independent audit” in November. At the time “nothing was found to indicate they were breaching our rule banning forced labour. If there had, we would have permanently ceased collaboration with the factory immediately,” Belga reports.  

    The message inside the card asked the person who found it to “contact Mr Peter Humphrey.” 

    The girl’s father researched the name and discovered Humphrey was a former private investigative journalist. He was arrested in 2013 and then sentenced to two and a half years in prison for violating China’s privacy laws in 2014. He was working for British group GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) in China at the time. 

    Humphrey himself wrote the Sunday Times article. He explained he had been contacted by former prisoners from Qingpu who said they had been forced to package cards for Tesco. 

    Sarah Johansson
    The Brussels Times