Human rights campaigners in China have been outraged after beggars in the Nanchang region were ordered to stay in purposely built cages to avoid spoiling the atmosphere at a religious festival.
Organisers told beggars their presence ruins the experience for visitors at the temple fair in Nanchang, Jiangxi province The Daily Mail Reports.
Those that wished to stay were given a simple ultimatum: beg from inside small cages or leave town.
The zoo-like cages are so cramped that adults are unable to stand upright and although they are free to leave, they are immediately banished from the festival area.
"Over the last few years we have had increasing numbers of beggars turning up at the festival and it was becoming very intruding for our visitors. They were being harassed and made to feel uncomfortable," said a festival organiser.
"This year we decided we would no longer accept beggars wandering everywhere, distressing our guests and spoiling it for everyone else," explained one organiser before adding that no one is forcing them to beg and that they have voluntarily entered the cages.
"We had no choice but to ban them from the grounds. We found the cages a good solution for everyone. People can still give them donations if they desire too but are not harassed and followed around the festival when they are having a day out with their families."
The annual festival commemorates a religious holy day with a funfair, market and entertainment as pilgrims come to the temple from all over China.
Due to the thousands of visitors it has become a magnet for down-and-outs looking for charity from tourists.But incensed human rights campaigners in China have hit out against the festival.
"They are treating them like zoo animals. What will they have to do next - tricks for their food?," one said. "This is nothing less than public humiliation."
Many pilgrims who had some to enjoy the fair, but most importantly honour the religious holiday, were far from impressed by the treatment of the beggars.
Lu Cheng who was visiting the temple with his family said: "I was horrified to see these poor people in cages. We came for a nice day out with the family, but it was distressing to see fellow humans kept like animals in a cage."These people deserve better treatment and should be able to visit the festival just like everyone else. If people decide to give them food, money or water that is up to them."
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