30,000 Liaoning Workers Protest Arrest

Following a week of mass protests staged by workers in Liaoyang, in the northeastern province of Liaoning, tension escalated as the city government began arrests of the organizers. According to the Hongkong-based Information Center on Democracy and Human Rights in China, a key organizer from Liaoyang Ferrous Alloy Factory, Yao Fuxin, was arrested on 17 March, 2002. Police are reported to be hunting for over a dozen other organizers of the protests. Over 30,000 workers from about 20 state-owned enterprises (SOE) in Liaoyang marched to the city government and Public Security Bureau headquarters to demand Yao's release. But Reuters (18 March) reported that Liaoyang police had denied Yao's arrest.

About 5,000 workers, many suffering from retrenchment from their SOEs, first started demonstrations on 11 March to demand government action on their livelihoods. The city government officials met with the demonstrators' representatives and promised further meetings and pledged that no arrests would be made. The demonstrators grew to 30,000 on 18 March when the city's delegate to the National People's Congress, Gong Shangwu, returned after attending the annual session of the congress in Beijing. The protesters demanded the resignation of Gong for failing to attend to the grave problem of plant closures and bankruptcies.

(Sources: Apple Daily, Ming Pao News)


Online: 2002-03-19

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