Xiao Yunliang and Yao Fuxin, workers' leaders from Liaoyang in north east China were tried on 15 January 2003 on charges including subversion and the organising of illegal demonstrations. No verdict has yet been announced and the workers' leaders have remained in post-trial detention for over three months. This contravenes even Chinese law - a system not known for its liberality - on the time limit for announcement of verdict in a criminal trial.
Xiao Yunliang has an eye condition which stems from an injury he got when he was pushed into a police van at the time of his initial detention in March 2002.
Yao Fuxin and Xiao Yunliang, along with Wang Zhaoming, Gu Baoshu (both released from detention on bail pending trial) and Pang Qingxiang (unconditionally released), were first detained in March and April 2002 for their involvement in mass protests at the Liaoyang Ferro-Alloy Factory in Liaoyang. The workers were protesting at corruption in the factory, which had led to bankruptcy, and against missing and unpaid wages and other benefits, including pensions.
Xiao Yunliang and Yao Fuxin were eventually charged with "subversion" and "organising illegal demonstrations", on the grounds of their alleged "links with foreign hostile elements" and membership of the banned China Democracy Party.
Both men were held for over ten months prior to trial. Since their initial detention, their families and those of other workers involved have been continuously harassed by the authorities and denied prison visits with their detained relatives. Other workers have also been detained for questioning, and there have been several reports of police brutality towards those questioned.
Meanwhile, the original grievances of the protesting workers have been left unaddressed and unanswered.
- For more information visit the China Labour Bulletin web site.