THE discovery of what is thought to be an ‘SOS’ message from a Chinese worker has been uncovered in a piece of clothing by a Belcoo family.
Karen Wisinska discovered the note and ID card inside a pair of shorts bought in Primark in Belfast three years ago.
Karen’s brother Gary (Duffy) explained that the jeans were damaged by the time they brought them home, and so, rather than return them, Karen threw them into a cupboard where they were forgotten about.
It wasn’t until last weekend when she was packing for a holiday that she rediscovered the piece of clothing, and in one of the pockets, what appeared to be a Chinese ID card and an ‘SOS’ note.
“I had just got back from Spain on a holiday on Friday and my sister had been looking through the cupboard for clothes as she is away in July.
“She said she wanted to show me something that she found that day, I thought she was joking at first when I saw it because we didn’t know what to do, it’s not something you come across everyday.”
Gary said that they spent all day on Friday searching for someone to translate the note, and searched online to attempt to match the symbol on the ID card.
“We wanted to know what it meant but yet again we were scared as to what it would say since this was three years later and it could have been too late,” Gary said.
“We then thought we would both upload it to Facebook and hope that somebody would see it and be able to translate it.
Later, they recieved a translation from Amnesty International. who they passed the message onto.
That translation they recieved, Gary said, read as: “SOS SOS SOS. We are prisoners in the Xiang Nan Prison of the Hubei Province in China. Our job inside the prison is to produce fashion clothes for export. We work 15 hours per day and the food we eat wouldn’t even be given to dogs or pigs. We work as hard as oxen in the field.“We call on the international community to condemn the Chinese governement for the violation of our human rights!”
Gary described his sister’s reaction:
“My sister said ‘I feel like crying’ because she felt sad that this was sent three years ago and have only found it now.
While he and his sister are treating the find seriously, they are aware that it could be a hoax but Gary added: “It’s not something to be made a joke of.”
A spokesman for Primark said that they have started an investigation into the discovery.
“Primark actively investigates all allegations of breaches of its Code of Conduct immediately to ensure the wellbeing of all workers in its supply chain.
“We are always open to receiving information from any sources and we have now started an immediate detailed investigation.
“These shorts were last ordered by Primark in early 2009 and 9 inspections of the supplier have been carried out by Primark’s ethical standards team since then. To be clear, no prison or other forced labour of any kind was found during these inspections.”
The spokesman went on: “Primark’s Code of Conduct sets out the core principles that suppliers must follow to ensure products are made in good working conditions, that the people making them are treated decently and are paid a fair wage. Primark is a member of the Ethical Trading Initiative (ETI), and our Code is based on the ETI Base Code.
“We inspect each factory to ensure it is meeting our Code requirements and support the factory by providing guidance and training if issues are identified, 2058 of such inspections having been carried out in 2013 alone.
“Primark has a team of over 45 professionals dedicated to maintaining the standards set out in its Code.”
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