12 June 2003
On 12 June 2003, nine Hong Kong organisations took part in a demonstration to demand the immediate and unconditional release of the two imprisoned Liaoyang labour rights organisers, Yao Fuxin and Xiao Yunliang. The Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions (HKCTU), China Labour Bulletin, the Hong Kong Christian Industrial Committee, the Asia Monitor Resource Centre, Globalisation Monitor, April Fifth Movement, Hong Kong Christian Institute, Hong Kong Commission for Justice and Peace and the Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements of China were among the nine organizations which took part in the demonstration, held outside the China Liaison Office (CLO) in Hong Kong. It was hoped that the CLO would accept a petition calling for Yao and Xiao's release signed by almost 3,000 people in Hong Kong and worldwide.
Approximately thirty protestors gathered outside Hong Kong's Western District Police Station at 12 noon and marched the short distance to the CLO. The police prevented the demonstration from proceeding to the main entrance of the CLO and would only allow marchers to gather at the rear entrance, where a spokesperson for the groups, Zheng Qingfa, read out a collective statement demanding the unconditional release of Yao Fuxin and Xiao Yunliang.
The CLO refused to send a representative to accept the signatures. Along with placards and trade union banners, the signatures were consequently taped to barriers blocking off the entrance. Before dispersing, we again stated our solidarity, emphasising that NGO groups and HKCTU affiliates stand side by side with their brothers and sisters on the Mainland.
The struggle in Liaoyang is far from over and yesterday's action is just one link in a chain of protests that reaches right up to the International Labour Organisation (ILO) in Geneva. We will continue our fight until all Mainland and Hong Kong workers enjoy the rights to freedom of association, free collective bargaining, and free speech, freedom of publication and freedom to demonstrate.
On 4 June, a global street and internet signature campaign calling for the unconditional release of the Liaoyang Two and supporting their struggle was launched by China Labour Bulletin in conjunction with the London-based labour news website LabourStart. To date, almost three thousand signatures have been collected. One of the aims of the protest was to hand the signatures over to the CLO director, Gao Siren, and request that he pass them on to President Hu Jintao, Premier Wen Jiabao and Bo Xilai, the governor of Liaoning province
The statement and signatures will be sent to the central government in Beijing as well as to the Liaoning provincial government. CLB representative Han Dongfang is currently attending the ILO's annual conference in Geneva. On 13 June he will deliver a speech to the ILO Workers' Group condemning the Chinese government's repression of the workers' movement in China and calling on the international community to show their concern for the Liaoyang Two.