Julie Keith, 42, of Damascus said she contacted a human rights organization after finding a letter tucked into a plastic "graveyard kit" of Halloween decorations, purchased at Kmart, allegedly describing conditions in Unit 8, Department 2 of the Masanjia Labor Camp in Shenyang, China.
The handwritten letter, in English with occasional Chinese characters, read in part, "If you occasionally buy this product, please kindly resend this letter to the World Human Right Organization. Thousands people here who are under persicution [persecution] of the Chinese Party Government will thank and remember you forever."
The letter mentions overwork, punishment and "nearly no payment," The (Portland) Oregonian noted Monday.
Sophie Richardson, China director of the international rights organization Human Rights Watch, said, "We're in no position to confirm the veracity or origin of this. I think it's fair to say the conditions in the letter certainly conform to what we know about conditions in re-education in labor camps."
Keith says she now checks the label of everything she buys, including to a Christmas gingerbread house.
"If I really don't need it I won't buy it if it's made in China. This has really made me more aware," she said.