and still more

June 24th, 2007

Another great piece on the Shanxi slavery case over at ESWN. But there’s one comment in this article that bugs me:

A deputy director of the county’s Publicity Department attributed the murders and maltreatment of workers to the lack of awareness of human rights on the part of the kiln owners and subcontractors.

Ummm, right. Now, I’m sorry, but I can’t see how much education is required to make somebody aware of basic human rights. A bachelor’s degree? A doctorate? But no, hang on a minute, that good old Biblical principle, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you”, seems to me to be a key element of basically every code of ethics in every society. Is this not what parents the world over teach their children?

So, sorry, but it is not about a lack of awareness of human rights. It does not take much more education or “awareness raising” than that provided by normal parents to normal children to know that beating and killing your workers is wrong. Nor does it take any more education than that to know that forcing people to work long hours for no pay and only a tiny little bit of food is wrong. Or that locking them into a room in which they are forced to eat, urinate, defecate and sleep on the ground is wrong. Do a random survey of random six year olds around the world and I’m sure the overwhelming majority of them will tell you that the slave drivers of the Shanxi brick kilns were bad people.

So no, it is not about a lack of awareness of human rights. There is something very sick and very evil about these people and the fact that they tried to flee or hide the child slaves when the case was exposed shows perfectly clearly that they knew they were doing wrong.

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