We tend not to see the connection between our consumption of cheap Chinese crap and human rights abuses, but after reading this story, I guarantee you: It's going to be a lot harder to maintain that state of denial.
Julie Keith was unpacking some of last year's Halloween decorations when she stumbled upon an upsetting letter wedged into the packaging.
Tucked in between two novelty headstones that she had purchased at Kmart, she found what appeared to be a letter from the Chinese laborer, who had made the decoration, pleading for help.
The letter reads: "Sir, if you occasionally buy this product, please kindly resend this letter to the World Human Right Organization. Thousands people here who are under the persecution of the Chinese Communist Party Government will thank and remember you forever."
"I was so frustrated that this letter had been sitting in storage for over a year, that this person had written this plea for help and nothing had come of it." Julie Keith told Yahoo! Shine. "Then I was shocked. This person had probably risked their life to get this letter in this package."
The letter describes the conditions at the factory: "People who work here have to work 15 hours a day without Saturday, Sunday break and any holidays. Otherwise, they will suffer torturement, beat and rude remark. Nearly no payment (10 yuan/1 month)." That translates to about $1.61 a month.
Keith, a mom who works at the Goodwill in Portland, Oregon, did some research into the letter. "I looked up this labor camp on the internet. Some horrific images popped up, and there were also testimonials about people who had lived through this camp. It was just awful."
Horrified, Keith took to Facebook. She posted an image of the letter to ask friends for advice. One responded with a contact at Amnesty International. Keith made several attempts to alert them about the letter, but the organization never responded.
With no response from various human rights organizations, Keith took her story to The Oregonian. "The reporter, Rachel Stark, got through to Human Rights Watch, but I had no luck."
This is not the first time a letter like this has turned up. Just this week, another plea was found written in Chinese on a toilet seat and posted on Reddit. Commenters on the website have questioned the letters' authenticity.
Though the letter lists the address of the specific camp, officials at Human Rights Watch were unable to verify the authenticity of the letter. However, Sophie Richardson, China director at Human Rights Watch, told The Oregonian that the description was consistent with their research.