CLB Press Release on Liaoyang Workers' Protests (2002-03-21)

March 21, 2002

Free All Detained Workers-Activists in Liaoyang

On the morning of March 21, around 1,000 workers from the Ferroalloy Factory in Liaoyang, Liaoning province, once again gathered in front of the city government offices. They demanded the release of four arrested workers' representatives. In the midst of the protest action, Guo Suxiang (female, 56 years old), wife of arrested leader Pang Qingxiang, was also arrested by the police. Another worker from the Liaoyang Fibre Factory tried to intervene, shouting, "This arrest is wrong!" As a result the police also arrested him and took him away.

The anti-corruption demonstration by Ferroalloy Factory workers has lasted 10 days. During this time six workers have been arrested, including four workers' representatives:

  • Yao Fuxin (male, 54 years old) – arrested March 17

  • Pang Qingxiang (male, 58 years old) – arrested March 20

  • Xiao Yunliang (male, 57 years-old) – arrested March 20

  • Wang Zhaoming (male, 39 years old) – arrested March 20

  • Guo Suxiang (female, 56 years old) – arrested March 21 [released on March 22 –Ed]

  • A worker from Fibre Factory (details unknown) – arrested March 21

On March 21, the city’s Bai Ta District Public Security Bureau issued a notice of detention to the families of the four workers' representatives for ‘illegal demonstration’. They are being held at Tieling City Detention Centre.

China Labour Bulletin is outraged at the ongoing arrests and threats taken by the Liaoyang government. We tend to believe that the iron-fisted measures are taken to cover up the local officials’ corrupt practices in the SOE reforms – the local officials have all the reason to worry that they can be brought to court if their corrupt practices are uncovered.

We demand that the central government take immediate administrative and legal measures to stop the Liaoyang city government from intensifying the conflicts for their own interests. The workers rightly deserve an answer to their demands.

The SOE reforms have never taken into consideration the workers' rights and interests. Corrupt local officials who have brought the state enterprises to bankruptcy have ironically turned into millionaires. Social crisis has been built up. Tens of thousands of Daqing oilfield workers have kept up with their demonstrations for three weeks, and in Liaoyang, workers also take to the street in thousands – yet this is only the tip of the iceberg. The brewing crisis is substantially played down by corrupt local officials. China will be pushed to another disaster if they can stay at large with their repressive measures against the workers.

We demand that the central government stop suppressing the right of workers in China to form independent trade unions. It is only with trade unions of the workers’ own choosing will the management and local authorities be able to resolve the conflicts in the bargaining process.

China Labour Bulletin

March 21, 2002

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