China Labour Bulletin Press Statement
11 April, 2002
On 11 April, 2002, Guo Xiujing, the wife of detained Liaoyang Ferroalloy Factory workers' representative Yao Fuxin, finally obtained official permission to visit her husband. Yao is being detained at a police lockup in Tieling city in Liaoning province. He is in ill health.
After returning from Tieling to her home in Liaoyang, Guo Xiujing told CLB that although Yao Fuxin was in reasonably good spirits, the right side of his body was completely numb and there was no strength in his right leg, making walking very difficult. His right hand was trembling and he was suffering from headaches and numbness in his head. However he was still able to speak clearly. The government has so far refused to allow him to be hospitalized, although the Public Security Bureau(PSB) has agreed to pay for his medical fees. Yao Fuxin told his wife that he was kept in shackles for the first four days of his detention.
Since 11 March, 2002, thousands of workers from the Liaoyang Ferroalloy Factory and six other state owned enterprises (SOEs) have been staging continuous demonstrations outside government buildings demanding the payment of wages arrears and pensions. They also want the government to punish corrupt officials who have caused their factories to go bankrupt. As one of the workers' representatives, Yao was secretly detained on March 17. The next day, as many as 3,000 workers from the Ferroalloy Factory gathered in front of the gates of the Liaoyang government building and demanded his release. During the course of events on that day, three more workers' representatives were detained. They are Xiao Yunliang, Pang Qingxiang and Wang Zhaoming. Workers from the Ferroalloy Factory have been continuing their demonstrations outside government offices calling for the release of their representatives. In response, the government has not only ignored their calls but even ordered more arrests. On March 21, as workers again gathered to call for the release of the detainees, Pang Qingxiang's wife and another worker from a local textile printing and dying factory who had come to express his support were detained. Pang's wife was released that afternoon, but the situation and name of the other detained worker remains unknown.
On a related issue, the family of another detained workers' representative Xiao Yunliang has secured the services of a lawyer. However, approximately one week ago, when the lawyer applied to see his client in line with PSB procedures, the PSB claimed that Xiao Yunliang had refused to hire a lawyer and rejected the application.
CLB welcomes the decision of the Liaoyang government to allow Guo Xiujing to visit her husband in detention. At the same time we demand that the Liaoyang government:
- Immediately release the Ferroalloy Factory workers' representatives -- Yao Fuxin, Xiao Yunliang, Pang Qingxiang and Wang Zhaoming, as well as the worker from the textile printing and dying factory. The government must, in accordance with the law, compensate the workers' representatives for losses incurred as a result of its unlawful administrative violations.
- The Liaoyang government must accept responsibility for Yao Fuxin's ill health. It remains the responsibility of the PSB to immediately take him to a good hospital for treatment for which the government must bear all costs.
We demand that the Chinese government:
The Liaoyang government's brutal treatment of protesting workers is the result of either direct or indirect pressure from the central government in Beijing. As such the central government has a responsibility to urge the Liaoyang authorities to release all the workers' representatives and open a dialogue with them.
At the same time, an inquiry must be launched into the alleged beating and ill treatment of the detainees at the police lockup and any PSB officers and prison wardens responsible for such abuses should be punished in accordance with the law.
CLB also demands that an investigation be conducted into the Ferroalloy Factory workers' demands for payment of wages arrears, pensions and the punishment of government and enterprise officials who have caused the factory to go bankrupt. Officials who have accepted bribes and broken the law must be punished in accordance with the law.