China Labour Bulletin is outraged at the charges reportedly leveled against Yao Fuxin at his trial today in Liaoyang. Mo Shaoping, Yao Fuxins lawyer, told CLB that during the trial today, Yao was accused of having communication with Han Dongfang, labour activist and Director of CLB, who was labeled by the prosecutor as a hostile element. Yao who denied all charges against him was also accused of participating in a hostile organization stemming from his signature on a Democracy Party petition letter back in 1998. Mo argued in court that his client was innocent of all charges and had committed no criminal activity.
A worker from Liaoyang who lives near the court told CLB that police cars blocked all vehicle and pedestrian traffic this morning in front of the court where the trial was taking place. Another worker from the Liaoyang Ferroalloy Factory told CLB late today that the leaders of the workers who were continuing the struggle and seeking the release of Yao and the other three leaders of the March protests, Xiao Yunliang, Wang Zhaoming and Pang Qingxiang, had their telephone lines cut today. And the families of all these leaders had police officers with them in their homes all day long. Wang who disappeared on Dec. 31 is now back at home but has been warned not to discuss the trial or communicate with outsiders.
According to a court official, the decision to make the trial public was made yesterday but all the tickets for the trial had at that time already been distributed. CLB believes that the procedure for announcing to the public an open trial three days in advance was violated and the outcome was that no workers were able to be present. Another court official told CLB today that the charges against Yao and Xiao could bring sentences of between 3 to 10 years.
CLB, established in 1994, strives to provide Chinese workers with a better understanding of their labour rights and the Chinese Labour Law. As economic reforms continue and unemployment grows, CLB believes that all the stakeholders involved have to be part of the solution. The Government, the employers, the employees and the unemployed, all have to work together to find a peaceful solution to resolve the problem of growing labour unrest in China, said Han Dongfang.
CLB, along with numerous other human rights organizations has been closely monitoring the developments in Liaoyang. The Chinese workers struggle is part of an international struggle for the realization of labour rights and CLB has endeavored to build a link between the Chinese workers and the international labour community.
Yao and Xiao Yunliang were merely exercising their internationally recognized rights of freedom of association and collective bargaining when they took to the streets with other Liaoyang workers in March of 2002. Charges of communication with hostile element has frequently been used by the Chinese government as a means to silence dissent and discredit Chinese activists. Even when released, the government often places restrictions on the communications of these activists. However, these blatant violations of the right to freedom of expression have not silenced the voices of activists nor workers.
All of this amounts to a complete disregard for justice and the rights of these worker representatives, said CLB. Attempting to discredit the workers by arguing that in seeking to protect their own rights they were subverting the state will backfire. It will not deter other workers or other organizations, including CLB, from supporting their struggle and building international solidarity.