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article imageSuicides at Chinese company prompt Buddhist monks to visit

By Igor I. Solar     May 13, 2010 in World
Shenzhen - Six workers of Foxconn Technology Group have committed suicide since January 2010. Company executives are calling on Buddhist monks to perform religious ceremonies aimed at “dispelling misfortune and releasing souls from purgatory”.
Foxconn, a Chinese multinational based in Tucheng, Taiwan and, the largest manufacturer of electronic components in the world, has a problem: Foxconn’s workers in Shenzhen, Guandong province, mostly young people, are killing themselves in unprecedented numbers. Jumping from a building has been the most frequent method. So far this year, eight workers attempted suicide; six died and two survived.
Foxconn is known for supplying material for popular products such as Apple's iPod and makes components for electronics companies such as Dell and Sony.
The first suicide this year took place January 23 when Ma Xiangqian, a 19-year-old employee, ended his life. In March, two employees jumped from a building, but one of them, a female, survived. In April, three employees, age 18 to 24 jumped from buildings. On May 6, Lu Xin, a 24-year-old employee, jumped from the sixth floor of a building and died. Lastly, a 24-year-old woman killed herself by jumping from her apartment on May 12, becoming the eighth suicide attempt among Foxconn employees since January, according to China Daily.
Company officials have discussed since April the idea of inviting eminent monks for blessings, but were afraid of criticism from the public. Following the latest suicide on May 12, it was decided to reconsider the idea and three eminent monks arrived in Shenzhen on Monday night. Several other monks are expected within the next seven days. They are urged to pray over the workplace to make it a safe and calm environment.
Liu Kun, director of communications with the company, told China Daily, "The victims' families asked us to bless the dead and release their souls from suffering, and we will do everything we can to comfort them and prevent such accidents in the future."
The factory in Shenzhen, China, opened in 1988 and is the company’s largest manufacturing plant with more than 330,000 employees. In 1994, Foxconn established development centers in the United States and Japan. In 1997, additional manufacturing plants started operations in the UK and the USA. As of 2007, the company and its subsidiaries owned plants in the Czech Republic, Hungary, Mexico, Brazil, India, and Vietnam. Foxconn produces computer components for Apple Inc. (Mac mini, iPod, iPad and iPhone), motherboards for Intel and parts for PlayStation 2 and 3 of Sony, Wii for Nintendo and Kindle of Amazon, among others.
In February 2010 Foxconn workers of the plant in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, rioted and set the plant on fire about complaints related to forced unpaid overtime.
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