Woman Finds Letter Allegedly from Chinese Laborer Tucked Inside Her Kmart Halloween Decorations

In a story so powerfully on-the-nose that it stinks of urban legend ("Help! Being held prisoner in a fortune cookie factory!"), an Oregon woman opened a package of Halloween decorations to find a desperate letter from a Chinese laborer. The letter (which, so far, has been neither verified nor debunked) begins:

"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 persicution of the Chinese Communist Party Government will thank and remember you forever."

It goes on to describe conditions in the labor camp:

15 hour work days, no days off, and pay at 10 yuan per month ($1.61 US Dollar) if any. It also described the 1-3 year average forced labor terms without trial, and the large amount of Falun Gong practitioners in forced labor, a banned spiritual group.

Whether this is a real plea for help or a clever stab at viral activism, I think it's fair to say that the world at large could stand to take a look at inhumane manufacturing processes—particularly in less-than-transparent economies like China's. According to the Smithsonian, the director of Human Rights Watch in China says the letter "sounds accurate based upon what's known about re-education through labor in China."

For their part, Kmart has released this statement:

"Sears Holdings has a Global Compliance Program which helps to ensure that vendors and factories producing merchandise for our company adhere to specific Program Requirements, and all local laws pertaining to employment standards and workplace practices. Failure to comply with any of the Program Requirements, including the use of forced labor, may result in a loss of business or factory termination. We understand the seriousness of this allegation, and will continue to investigate."

You can view a photo of the full letter here.