by Allison Petkoff
While looking for her receipt in her Sak’s Fifth Avenue shopping bag, 28-year-old New York woman Stephanie Wilson found something else instead: a cry for help from a Chinese prisoner. The Chinese prisoner left a note in the bag that described the terrible work conditions he worked in every day. He explained that this was a cry for help because people including himself are treated inhumanely and work for 13 hours a day.
This message was dated on June 15, 2012, and Wilson received it 4 months later. Upon receiving the letter, Wilson took initiative to make sure something was done immediately. She took her letter and information to a D.C.-based Research Foundation that fights for human rights in Chinese prisons. This investigation was not successful so the investigation was turned over to the Department of Homeland Security. Fortunately, Tohnain Emmanuel Njong, the writer of the letter, was located and released from jail in December 2013. Tohnain Emmanuel Njong was an English teacher prior to imprisonment, which explains why he could write a letter in English. Njong claimed to have written five letters but only one was reported. Njong said that he did not commit the crime he was imprisoned for but did not disclose further details. Similar cases of prison labor have been reported to the Department of Homeland Security. Because of this, there are still many battles that need to be won regarding prison labor.
According to The Telagraph, a spokesperson from Sak’s Fifth Avenue said, “We have a rigorous social compliance program that outlines our zero tolerance policy, which includes forced labor.”