China Labour Bulletin has recently learned that Xiao Yunliang and Yao Fuxin have been moved from the Liaoning City Detention Centre to Yingkou Prison near Yingkou city, Liaoning province, several hundred kilometers away. The families were only told after the transfer took place.
China Labour Bulletin is extremely concerned that the move will mean that both men are forced to carry out labour while in ill-health.
The usual practice is to send prisoners convicted of political crimes, such as subversion, to Liaoning's Jinzhou prison rather than Yingkou. The detention centre however was reported as saying that the prisoners move to Yingkou was in order for them to receive "collective training" for a period of four – six weeks before being transferred to another prison where they will complete their prison sentences. Yingkou prison is also known as Yingkou Xinsheng ('Newlife' or 'Rebirth') Prison Farm and according to reports, all or most of the inmates undertake intensive farm work.
According to CLB sources, the families of Yao and Xiao were both allowed to visit the two men two days before they were secretly transferred. During the family visit on 16 July, Xiao Yunliang reportedly told his family that he had been given a medical check up as required by Chinese Prison law, which states that prior to moving to a new prison, all prisoners must undergo a medical check up. However, he had not been given any medical treatment or medicine for his eye condition or for his weakness. Xiao Yunliang is now so de-habilitated that he cannot walk unassisted.
Shortly after the visit, the two men were transferred. Xiao Yunliang's family was then reportedly telephoned on 20 July and told that both families could visit the two men at Yingkou prison. Xiao Yunliang also spoke to his family and asked them to visit him urgently and bring money. On 23 July, the families, including the aged parents of Yao Fuxin, traveled to the prison. On their arrival however, they were allegedly informed that they could not enter the prison as the prison authorities had received a notice explaining that the two men were "special prisoners", and could not be visited. No reasons for this were given. After waiting several hours they left and returned to Liaoning.
According to a CLB source, while at the prison, the director of the department responsible for new inmates came out to talk to the family groups. He was reported as saying that Yao Fuxin has high blood pressure which the detention centre was unable to treat. On 22 July his pressure was so high that he was taken to the prison clinic for treatment, but was now recovered. However, the director said that he believed Yao's health condition to be more alarming that the condition of Xiao Yunliang.
However when Xiao's family told him that Xiao was too weak to work and could hardly walk, the director allegedly said that not only could the prison not give him suitable treatment, as it was lacking in such facilities, but that 'if a prisoner can move, then he can work'.
China Labour Bulletin is concerned that both Xiao Yunliang and Yao Fuxin are too ill to undertake prison labour and such work can only decrease their chances of recovery. The family of Xiao Yunliang are reportedly deeply worried that his urgent request for a visit was denied and fear his condition has deteriorated or that something has happened in the few days he has been at Yingkou.
China Labour Bulletin urges the Chinese authorities to ensure that both men receive proper medical treatment and, if their condition cannot be properly treated in prison, they should be released immediately on medical parole. We ask that neither of the two men be forced to undergo labour at the Yingkou prison farm.
In a separate development, CLB has learned that notices have been pasted in the neighborhoods where most of the workers live asking that people donate up to 10 Yuan each (approximately US$1.2) to assist a delegation of workers from the Ferro-Alloy Factory travel to Beijing to petition the central authorities. We also learned that shortly after the notices appeared, officials from the local government visited the homes of several worker representatives and warned them that although they may be allowed to go to Beijing, they should not raise the case of Yao Fuxin and Xiao Yunliang.
Despite over three years of protest and petitions, the workers from the Ferro-Alloy Factory - and indeed many other factories in Liaoyang - have not yet received the many months of missing wages and unemployment benefits they are owed. In the face of almost daily police harassment and the imprisonment of two of their representatives, the workers in Liaoyang have repeatedly called for the release of Yao Fuxin and Xiao Yunliang and continued their campaign relating to unpaid and missing wages and other benefits as well as their call for an investigation into alleged corruption at the Liaoyang Ferro-Alloy Factory which led to its bankruptcy.
Please sign the CLB and LabourStart petition campaign calling for the release of both men.
In addition, we ask that people email the Liaoyang Provincial Government and the Liaoning City Government to ask that Yao Fuxin and Xiao Yunliang are immediately and unconditionally released, that they are both given adequate medical treatment, and that the Chinese authorities end the repression of workers in China who are attempting to exercise those rights and instead respond constructively to the workers' call for dialogue.
Governor Bo Xilai, Liaoyang Provincial Government:
Mayor Sun Yuanliang, Liaoning City Government:
Thank you for your support for Chinese workers in their struggle.