Head of Protest-Hit Liaoyang Steel Factory Arrested

After five months’ protests since mid-March, workers in Liaoyang gained some move with the arrest of Fan Yicheng, manager of Ferroalloy Factory. According to South China Morning Post (August 1, 2002), Fan was formally arrested and charged with dereliction of duty.

However, the four workers’ representatives, who have been arrested since March, are still under detention. Guo Xiujing, wife of Yao Fuxin, one of the arrested four, told China Labour Bulletin that to date, Yao has been refused meeting his appointed legal counsel, Mo Shaoping.

Ferroalloy Factory was at the centre of the large-scale workers’ protests in Liaoyang. In 2001, the factory was forced into bankruptcy by the management in collusion with corrupt local officials, rendering more than 4,000 workers unemployed. Employees were left not only without fair compensation, but also owed a full year's wages and pensions.

On March 11 and 12, over 10,000 workers hit the streets to demand that the government ensure their right to a decent standard of living. The workers also denounced the Liaoyang People's Congress, saying it had failed in its duty to effectively supervise the government, which had led to widespread corruption in the reform of the city's state-owned enterprises (SOEs). The workers demanded that the congress chairman should accept his responsibility and resign.

Despite the arrest of the factory manager, Guo Xiujing was not optimistic about the release of Yao. Quite a number of local officials have been arrested over the corruption allegation in the midst of the workers’ protests, and Guo expressed concerns that retaliation would be taken against Yao and the others.

The four workers’ representatives, Yao Fuxin, Pang Qingxiang, Wang Zhaoming and Xiao Yunliang, are being held at Tieling City Detention Centre on the charges of ‘illegal demonstrations’.

Mo Shaoping from Beijing has been appointed as Yao’s defence counsel, but his requests to meet Yao have been turned down.

Mr. Mo recounted the response of the city public security bureau to his request: “We have to get approval from [the senior officials]”. Mr. Mo explained that this kind of case did not require approval from the senior officials, and that denying Yao of legal counsel was in violation of the law. He went on to say that he would bring the matter to the city procuratorate and the provincial public security authority.

China Labour Bulletin
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