MAC: Mines and Communities

Clb Director Han Dongfang's Commentary On The 18th Anniversary Of June 4.

Published by MAC on 2001-05-01
Source: China Labour Bulletin, E-Bulletin No.34,

CLB Director Han Dongfang's commentary on the 18th anniversary of June 4.

CLB's updated list of Labour Rights Activists Imprisoned in China.

June 4, 1989 - The opening act of a tragedy

Han Dongfang, China Labour Bulletin, E-Bulletin No.34, June 4 2007

EIGHTEEN years have passed since the bloody suppression of the 1989 democracy movement in China. Among the most memorable images of that time - alongside the chilling scenes of the dead and injured on the streets of Beijing, and the inspiring vision of the young man in a white shirt standing in front of the tanks - were those of a frail and trembling Deng Xiaoping, the man who ordered the crackdown, at a televised meeting on June 9 with the soldiers and leaders of the People's Liberation Army. This footage revealed another side of the "great man": that of someone haunted by the tragic consequences of his own actions and in desperate search of historical vindication.

Hoping to wash the blood from his hands and calm his troubled soul, Deng needed an explanation for the crackdown - in essence, a justification for wholesale murder - and the mantra he came up with was "safeguarding social stability". Increasingly over the past 18 years, the Chinese government has cited China's spectacular economic development as a way of justifying the crackdown on the 1989 democracy movement, claiming that social stability has been the key to economic growth. This flawed logic has underpinned the authorities' relentless suppression of political dissidents, arrests of labour rights activists, and persecution of civil rights advocates that continues to this day.

In recent years, however, the policy of using terror tactics to maintain a fragile façade of social stability in China has begun to backfire.

Eighteen years after the suppression of a democracy movement that was opposed to corruption, corruption has become an incurable illness at the heart of the Communist Party. At the same time, the breakneck pace of economic development has brought about clear and tangible evidence of social disintegration on all sides. As a result, an autonomous civil rights (wei quan) movement has now sprung up and begun to penetrate cities, towns and villages around China. Too many citizens have been adversely affected by the government's corruption-ridden paradigm of growth without democracy, and more and more of them are now fighting back, using the language of rights and rule-of-law as their weapon.

China's post-Tiananmen economic success story has caught the imagination of the world; but in fact, the increasing gap between rich and poor since 1989 has been equally spectacular. Take the reform of state owned enterprises (SOEs), for example, and in particular the creation of the SOE share system that forced workers to pay to become shareholders, since having no shares would mean losing one's "rice bowl." Those without savings even had to borrow to take part in this scheme. The workers knew it was a trap, but one they had no way of avoiding. In the end, the great majority of the reformed enterprises made losses or went bankrupt, and the workers' accumulated life savings simply vanished into thin air. In most cases, the money ended up in the pockets of corrupt enterprise bosses.

Although murmurs of resentment could be heard everywhere, for many years China's workers dared not openly give voice to their anger, largely because of the officially prolonged "June 4 crackdown effect", which was like a sharp sword hanging constantly over their heads. Any organized attempts at protest or resistance were branded as "threats to social stability" and were met with harsh repression. The resultant lack of any effective, organised opposition from the workers left individual SOE bosses free to gradually reshape the entire businesses to their own personal ends.

In effect, the government's post-Tiananmen policies became a protective shield for the wholesale and unopposed transformation of China's public wealth into private assets. In the seven years between 1998 and 2004 alone, 30 million workers were forcibly laid off from SOEs. A huge proportion of them and their families were reduced to a state of permanent poverty, while in the process countless government officials and SOE managers became multi-millionaires.

Deng Xiaoping's hard-line policy of repression in 1989 was a mistake; trying to justify murder and the use of political terror in the name of stability was another mistake; and maintaining that political repression in exchange for rapid economic growth over the past 18 years has been a third mistake. As a result of these major policy errors, the Chinese government lost the golden opportunity that arose in the late 1980s to initiate political reforms and start building a democratic system. And now, two decades later, as the façade of social stability begins to crumble under the weight of growing worker anger and the rise of the civil rights movement, the Party is finding it has no option but to fundamentally reassess its ability to govern and to re-examine the very basis of its legitimacy.

Hence, in an attempt to assuage growing public anger and defuse the mass protests erupting all over China, the country's leaders have been obliged to put forward the goal of creating a "harmonious society." However, it is impossible to create a harmonious society unless one enjoys the trust and confidence of the people. And President Hu and Prime Minister Wen cannot secure such things by fiat or repression: they will have to earn them by actually implementing the "people-oriented" policies that they claim to espouse.

The man who ordered the June 4 crackdown passed away a decade ago, and both China's leadership and the government's socio-economic policies have changed conspicuously since then. But politically, the terror tactics remain in place and the "June 4 crackdown effect" still persists. China's current leadership now needs to make some bold new choices and stop repeating the mistakes of the past. Only thus will they be able to truly establish a "harmonious society" and re-establish the Party's popularity and legitimacy. The great mistakes of the past cannot be undone, but today's leaders could, given sufficient political wisdom and foresight, at least begin to repair the damage. Until that happens, the curtain will remain unclosed on the national tragedy prompted by the events of 18 years ago in Beijing.

Labour Rights Activists Imprisoned in China

Information about imprisoned labour rights activists in China is difficult to obtain, since many of the worker activities or protests that lead to their arrest and sentencing take place in cities without any independent news media presence, and so tend to go unreported. The following list of 23 labour rights activists currently imprisoned in China is by no means complete.


Gao Hongming

In January 1998, Gao Hongming, a veteran of China's 1978-79 Democracy Wall dissident movement, and his fellow activist Zha Jianguo, wrote to the head of the state controlled All China Federation of Trade Unions (ACFTU), Wei Jianxing, and applied for permission to form an autonomous labour group called the China Free Workers Union. In a statement faxed to the National People's Congress at that time, Gao said: "China's trade unions at all levels have become bureaucracies, and their officials bureaucrats. This has resulted in the workers becoming alienated [from the official union]."

In early 1999, after also playing a leading role in the formation of the now banned China Democratic Party (CDP), both Gao Hongming and Zha Jianguo were arrested and charged with "incitement to subvert state power." On August 2 that year, Gao was sentenced to eight years' imprisonment and Zha to nine years. On September 17, 1999 the Beijing High People's Court rejected the appeals of both men. Gao will be due for release from Beijing No 2 Prison on 28 June 2007. [8 years]

He Chaohui

He Chaohui, 45, a former railway worker at the Chenzhou Railway Bureau, and vice chairperson of the Hunan Workers Autonomous Federation during the May 1989 pro democracy movement, was sentenced to four years' imprisonment in 1990 for organizing a strike by railway workers in May 1989. In 1997 and 1998, He reportedly took part in several more strikes and demonstrations and gave information on the protests to overseas human rights groups. He was also said to have been active at that time in forming a group to support the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.

In April 1998, the police detained He Chaohui after finding a US$300 cheque sent to him by an American university professor. This was seen as confirmation that he had provided overseas groups with information about recent workers' protests in Hunan. He was later released due to a lack of evidence, but was rearrested in May 1999 on the charge of "endangering state security (illegally providing information to foreign organizations) " After a three hour trial the following month, He was sentenced on 24 August 1999 to 10 years' imprisonment. In December 2004, He Chaohui received a one year sentence reduction, and he will be due for release from Hunan Province's Chishan Prison on 10 October 2007. [4+9 years]

Hu Mingjun

Hu Mingjun and Wang Sen, both leaders of the Sichuan provincial branch of the banned China Democratic Party (CDP), were detained by police in 2001 after they communicated with striking workers at the Dazhou Steel Mill. On 18 December 2000, about 1000 workers at the factory had organized a public demonstration demanding payment of overdue wages, and Hu and Wang subsequently made contact with the demonstrating workers. Wang, a resident of Dazhou, was arrested on 30 April 2001 and Hu, a resident of Chengdu, was arrested on 30 May. The two men were initially charged with "incitement to subvert state power" but the charges were subsequently increased to actual "subversion." On May 2002, at the Dazhou Intermediate People's Court, Hu was sentenced to 11 years' imprisonment and Wang received a 10 year sentence. Hu is currently being held at Chuanzhong Prison in Gaoping District, Nanchong City, Sichuan. Wang Sen is reportedly in very poor health and has severe diabetes; he has applied for release on medical parole, so far without success. [11 years]

Hu Shigen

A former academic at the Beijing Foreign Languages Institute, Hu Shigen (also known as Hu Shenglun) was a founder in 1991 and 1992 of both the Free Labour Union of China (FLUC) and the China Liberal Democratic Party (CLDP). Arrested in May 1992 along with fifteen other unofficial trade union and party activists from the two groups, he was charged on twin counts of "organizing and leading a counterrevolutionary group" and "engaging in counterrevolutionary propaganda and incitement." After two years of detention, Hu Shigen and the other members of the "Beijing Sixteen" were brought to trial in Beijing. Hu received the heaviest sentence of all - 20 years' imprisonment. He received a seven month sentence reduction in December 2005 and is now due for release on 26 October 2011. He is serving his sentence in Beijing No 2 Prison. [20 years]

Jiang Cunde

Jiang, a Shanghai native, was a worker at the Dong Xin Tool Repair Works when, in 1985 and 1986, according to the authorities, he began to advocate "imitating the model of Poland's Solidarity Trade Union to overthrow the present political powers." He reportedly also planned to establish a "China Human Rights Committee" In May 1987, Jiang and two others were convicted on charges of planning to hijack an airplane, and he was sentenced to life in prison for counterrevolution. In January 1993, after having reportedly become mentally ill, Jiang was released from Shanghai's Tilanqiao Prison on medical parole. Six years later, however, he was rearrested for allegedly having "joined a reactionary organization, written reactionary articles and sent them to news agencies, and used the occasion of the US bombing of China's embassy in Belgrade in 1999 to stir up trouble" Jiang was returned to Tilanqiao Prison in June 1999 to continue serving his life sentence. In August 2004, his sentence was commuted to 20 years' imprisonment, and he is currently due to be released in August 2024.

Although Jiang Cunde was convicted of an internationally recognized criminal offence, CLB has included him on this list of non violent detained worker activists for three reasons: 1) according to a recently published account by a released fellow prisoner from Tilanqiao, the original charge against Jiang of "hijacking an airplane" was a complete fabrication by the police; 2) the grounds officially given for Jiang's re-imprisonment in 1999 related solely to his exercise of the right to freedom of association and expression; and 3) because he has been an advocate of independent trade unionism in China since 1985. [20 years]

Kong Youping

A former official trade union official in Liaoning Province, Kong Youping was sentenced to 15 years' imprisonment on 16 September 2004 by the Shenyang Intermediate People's Court. Kong's colleague and co-defendant at the September 2004 trial, Ning Xianhua, was sentenced to 12 years' imprisonment. Kong, 55 years old, originally worked as the union chairman at a state owned enterprise in Liaoning, but his support for protests by laid off workers and his sharp criticism of government corruption and suppression led to his dismissal from both the factory and the union. In the late 1990s, a group of political dissidents, including Kong Youping, were working to establish a branch of the China Democracy Party (CDP) in Liaoning Province, and in 1999 Kong was detained and imprisoned for a year on charges of "incitement to subvert state power." Prior to his recent arrest and trial, Kong was reportedly involved in planning the establishment of an independent union and had posted articles on the Internet criticizing official corruption and calling for a reassessment of the June 4th Massacre. The specific charges laid against Kong Youping and Ning Xianhua at their trial are not known. [1+15 years]

Li Wangyang

Li was first arrested in June 1989 and sentenced to 13 years imprisonment the following year on charges of "counter revolutionary propaganda and incitement" for founding the Shaoyang Workers' Autonomous Federation and leading workers' strikes during the May 1989 pro democracy movement. He was released in June 2000, but in February 2001, he staged a 22 day hunger strike in an attempt to obtain medical compensation for injuries to his back, heart and lungs that he had sustained while in prison, and which reportedly left him unable to walk unaided. For staging the hunger strike protest, Li was again arrested by the police. On 5 September 2001, he was tried in secret by the People's Intermediate Court of Shaoyang on the charge of "incitement to subvert state power" and sentenced to a further 10 years' imprisonment. [13+10 years]

Li Xintao

Li Xintao male, aged 53, and Kong Jun, female, aged 43, two labour rights activists from Shandong Province, were tried on May 11 2005 by the Mouping District Court in Yantai City, Shandong. They were found guilty of "disrupting government institutions" and "disturbing social order" and Kong and Li were sentenced to two and five years' imprisonment respectively (Li was reportedly detained in November 2004; the date of Kong's detention is not known.) They had organized public protests against the bankruptcy of their factory, the Huamei Garment Company, and had sent official complaints to Shandong provincial officials. According to Li and Kong, managers at the company, which declared bankruptcy in August 2002, had failed to pay the workers' wages or social insurance benefits from March 2001 onwards. Both worker activists expressed the wish to appeal against their sentences but were reportedly unable to find lawyers willing to represent them. Kong Jun was released from prison after completing her sentence. [5 years]

Liu Jian

Liu Jian, now in his early forties, and Liu Zhihua, age unknown, were both workers at the Xiangtan Electrical Machinery Plant, Hunan Province, prior to June 1989 and participated in a rowdy demonstration by over 1,000 workers from the factory just after June 4 that year to protest the government's violent suppression of the pro democracy movement. After one of their fellow workers had his arm broken by the factory's security guards, the demonstrators then allegedly ransacked the home of the security section chief. Arrested shortly afterwards, the two workers were tried and sentenced to life imprisonment in either August or October 1989 on charges of "hooliganism" and "intentional injury." However, the government has not publicly produced any evidence linking either Liu Jian or Liu Zhihua to specific acts of violence or other genuine crime. Two other workers from the same factory (Chen Gang and Peng Shi) also received life sentences for their involvement in the same protest action, but the sentences were later reduced and both men were reportedly released in 2004. Liu Jian is apparently the only one of the four detained Xiangtan Electrical Machinery Plant workers who has still not had his life prison term reduced to a fixed term sentence. He was formerly held at the Hunan Provincial No 6 Prison (Longxi Prison), but that prison is believed to have been closed down, and his current place of detention is unknown. [Life Imprisonment]

Liu Zhihua

Formerly a worker at the Xiangtan Electrical Machinery Plant, Liu Zhihua was sentenced to life imprisonment in October 1989 for taking part in a mass protest against the government's June 4 crackdown that year on the pro democracy movement. (For further details of this incident and of the specific charges brought against Liu, see above: case of Liu Jian) In September 1993, his sentence was reduced to 15 years' imprisonment with five years' subsequent deprivation of political rights, but in 1997 his sentence was extended by five years after he allegedly committed "injury with intent" in prison. His effective combined sentence then became 16 years' imprisonment (sentence to run from January 1997 to January 2013). In June 2001, Liu Zhihua's sentence was again reduced by two years, and he is now due to be released on 16 January 2011. He was formerly held at the Hunan Provincial No 6 Prison (Longxi Prison), but that prison is believed to have been closed down, and his current place of detention is unknown. [Total sentence: 22 years]

Luo Mingzhong

Born in 1953, Luo was laid off from his job at the Taiyuan Chemical Factory (part of Taiyuan Holdings), in Yibin, Sichuan Province in 2004. He led his fellow workers in fighting for proper compensation after the factory was privatized. On 22 March 2004, he was placed under administrative detention for ten days for blocking the road and obstructing traffic. In July 2005, Luo, together with fellow laid off workers Zhan Xianfu, Zhou Shaofen and Luo Huiquan led other workers to block the main factory gate in protest at the insufficient compensation offered for their loss of livelihood. Yibin Public Security officers then arrested the four leaders for allegedly "assembling to disturb public order."

In April 2006, the Cuiping District Court in Yibin convicted all four defendants on the charge of assembling to disturb public order. Luo Mingzhong and Luo Huiquan were sentenced to two years imprisonment. Zhan Xianfu was given a one and a half year prison sentence, suspended for two years. Zhou Shaofen was given a one year sentence, suspended for one year. Luo Mingzhong and Luo Huiquan filed appeals, but the Yibin Intermediate People's Court's ruling rejected their appeals and upheld the original sentences. The two imprisoned workers are due to be released in August 2007. [2 years]

Luo Huiquan

Luo, born in 1957, sentenced to two years' imprisonment. For details, see case of Luo Mingzhong (above). [2 years]

Miao Jinhong

Miao Jinhong and Ni Xiafei led a group of migrant workers in Zhejiang Province in blocking a railway line and attacking a police station to protest unpaid wages. Both men were detained in October 2000 and were subsequently tried and sentenced to 8 years' imprisonment (charges unknown). [8 years]

Ni Xiafei

Serving an 8 year prison sentence. For details, see case of Miao Jinhong (above). [8 years]

Ning Xianhua

Serving a 12 year prison sentence. For details, see case of Kong Youping (above).[12 years]

She Wanbao

She, a 49 year old Sichuan native, is a labour organizer and a member of the banned China Democratic Party (CDP). He was previously convicted of counter revolutionary propaganda and incitement by the Guangyuan Intermediate People's Court in Sichuan Province, and was sentenced on 3 November 1989 to four years' imprisonment. He was released in July 1993, but was rearrested around five years later in connection with his CDP activities. On 25 October 1999, the Sichuan Higher People's Court upheld a conviction on subversion charges against She by the Guangyuan Intermediate People's Court. He was sentenced to 12 years' imprisonment, and has been held at the Chuanzhong Prison since 5 April 2000. On 9 September 2005, She's sentence was reduced by six months. He is due for release on 6 January 2011, after which his political rights will be suspended for three years. [4+11½ years]

Wang Miaogen

Wang, a manual worker in Shanghai at the time of the May 1989 pro democracy movement, was a leading member of the Shanghai Workers Autonomous Federation, which was formed that month. Detained shortly after the June 4, 1989 government crackdown, Wang then spent two and a half years in untried police detention undergoing "re education through labour" on account of his involvement in the banned workers' group. In April 1993, after he committed an act of self mutilation in front of a Shanghai police station in public protest against having recently been severely beaten up by the police, he was redetained and then forcibly incarcerated in the Shanghai Ankang Mental Hospital, a facility run by the Public Security Bureau to detain and treat "dangerously mentally ill criminals." Wang has now been held incommunicado at the Shanghai Ankang for more than 14 years. [2½ years' jail + 14 years' psychiatric detention]

Wang Sen

Serving a 10 year prison sentence. For details, see case of Hu Mingjun (above). [10 years]

Yao Fuxin

In March 2002, Yao Fuxin, a worker at the Liaoyang Steel Rolling Factory, Liaoning Province, and Xiao Yunliang, a former worker at the Liaoyang Ferroalloy Factory, led around 2,000 workers from the latter factory, along with a further 15,000 workers from five other factories in Liaoyang, in a series of major public demonstrations The workers were protesting against alleged corrupt activities by managers at the Ferroalloy Factory, activities that they argued had directly caused its recent bankruptcy, and calling for unpaid wages and other owed benefits, including pensions, to be paid to the laid off workers. After the factory was declared bankrupt in early 2002, local workers had founded the "All Liaoyang Bankrupt and Unemployed Workers' Provisional Union" and elected Yao Fuxin as their spokesperson to conduct negotiations with the local government.

In late March 2002, Yao Fuxin, who is now 56 years old, and Xiao, now 61 years old, were secretly detained and formally charged with the crime of "illegal assembly and demonstration." Subsequently, on account of their alleged involvement in the banned China Democracy Party (CDP) - Yao and Xiao themselves have consistently denied any such involvement - the much more serious charge of "subversion" was brought against them. Tried at the Liaoyang Intermediate People's Court on 15 January 2003, Yao was sentenced to seven years in prison and will be due for release in March 2009. Xiao received a four year sentence, and was released from prison on 23 February 2006. Both men had been plagued by serious health problems throughout their imprisonment, and according to Yao Fuxin's family, who visit him regularly, his current health situation at Lingyuan No 2 Prison remains very poor. [7 years]

Yue Tianxiang

In 1995, Yue Tianxiang, a driver at the state owned Tianshui City Transport Company, Gansu Province, was laid off from his job despite being owed three months' back pay. When the company refused to negotiate a settlement regarding their wage arrears and to provide them with a legally due living allowance, Yue and another laid off driver, Guo Xinmin, decided to take their case to the Tianshui Labour Disputes Arbitration Committee. The Committee ruled that the company should find new positions for the two workers as soon as possible, but the company manager refused to implement this decision. When Yue and Guo learned that many of their fellow drivers in Tianshui faced the same kind of treatment, they set up a journal called China Labour Monitor and used it to publish articles on various labour rights related issues, including reports of corruption at their former company. They also wrote an open letter to President Jiang Zemin asking for the central government to take action on these issues. In late 1998, after receiving no response from the authorities, they distributed their letter to the international news media.

A few weeks later, in January 1999, they were detained by the Tianshui police and were eventually charged with "subversion of state power." On 5 July 1999, Yue Tianxiang was tried and sentenced to 10 years' imprisonment. Yue received a one year sentence reduction in March 2005 and is due for release on January 8, 2008. (His fellow activist Guo Xinmin was also sentenced at the same time, but he was freed from prison around one year later.) [10 years]

Zha Jianguo

Serving a 9 year sentence. See case of Gao Hongming (above) for details. [9 years]

Zhang Shanguang

Labour activist Zhang Shanguang, formerly a secondary school teacher, was first sentenced to seven years imprisonment after the June 4, 1989 government crackdown for his role in organizing the Hunan Workers' Autonomous Federation in May of that year. While in prison, he contracted severe tuberculosis. After his release, in early 1998, Zhang was interviewed by several overseas radio stations about widespread labor and peasant unrest in his home county of Xupu. He also gathered supporters for, and attempted to officially register with the authorities, a labour rights group that he had recently founded, the Association to Protect the Rights and Interests of Laid Off Workers (APRILW). By July 1998, this association had attracted more than 300 members from all walks of life, including workers, peasants, intellectuals and cadres, and even some local officials were initially supportive of the group's aims.

On July 21, 1998, the police detained Zhang, searched his home and confiscated all documents and correspondence relating to APRILW. Zhang's wife, He Xuezhu, was questioned and threatened by the police, who also urged her to divorce her husband. His many supporters in Xupu County rose swiftly to his defense, writing numerous appeals and even staging hunger strikes demanding his release. According to one such appeal letter, "The work of Zhang Shanguang will surely encourage the people of Hunan and the whole country to wage an even wider scale struggle to win democracy and freedom." Subsequently charged on the twin counts of "passing intelligence to hostile overseas organizations" and "incitement to subvert state power," Zhang was tried on 27 December 1998 and sentenced to 10 years' imprisonment. His tuberculosis has continued to worsen and he is reportedly in very poor medical condition. [7+10 years]

Zhao Changqing

Zhao, now 39 years old, was first arrested in June 1989 and detained for four months at Qincheng Prison, Beijing, for having organized a Students' Autonomous Committee at the Shaanxi Normal University during the pro democracy movement in May that year. He was arrested again in 1998 while teaching at a school affiliated with the Shaanxi Hanzhong Nuclear Industry Factory 813, after attempting to stand for election as a factory representative to the National People's Congress and publicly criticizing the All China Federation of Trade Unions (ACFTU) for failing to defend workers interests. In an open letter to his fellow factory workers, dated 11 January 1998, Zhao wrote: "You should treasure your democratic rights Even if I cannot run as a formal candidate, if you believe I am capable of representing you and of struggling for your interests, then I ask you to write in my name on the ballot. If elected, I will be worthy of your trust and will demonstrate my loyalty to you through my actions."

Before the workers' ballots could be cast on January 14, Zhao was secretly detained by the police on suspicion of "endangering state security." In July that year, he was tried at the Hanzhong City Intermediate People's Court on charges of "subversion" and sentenced to three years' imprisonment. After his release, in early November 2002, Zhao drafted and circulated an open letter to the National People's Congress demanding, among other things, an official reassessment of the 1989 pro democracy movement and the release of all political prisoners. In due course, 192 other political dissidents signed the letter, thereby attracting widespread international attention to what was the most significant political action by Chinese dissidents in recent years. In December 2002, Zhao Changqing was arrested by police for the third time and was later sentenced to 5 years' imprisonment for "incitement to subvert state power." Zhao has reportedly been held in solitary confinement for refusing to take part in military training and having contact with detained Falun Gong practitioners. [3 + 5 years]


Shao Liangchen, a leading member of the Jinan Workers Autonomous Federation, which was formed in Shandong Province during the May 1989 nationwide pro democracy movement, reportedly died of leukemia in late 2004 shortly after being released on medical parole from Weihu Prison, Shandong. He had been serving a 17 year prison sentence for allegedly having resisted the military crackdown on 4 June 1989. Originally sentenced to death by the Jinan Intermediate People's Court, Shao's sentence was later reduced to life imprisonment, and then eventually to 17 years' imprisonment. CLB only learned of Shao's death recently, so he was listed as "currently imprisoned" in our 4 June 2006 list of detained Chinese labour activists. His death has not been officially confirmed.


Ding Xiulan and Liu Meifeng

Ding and Liu, both workers at the Zhongheng Textile Factory in Funing County, Yancheng City, Jiangsu Province, reportedly led laid off factory workers to stage protests at the factory's entrance and demand reasonable compensation following the privatization of the former state owned enterprise. After receiving no response from the company, on 2 October 2004 Ding and Liu then led several hundred workers to demonstrate outside the Yancheng City government building in an attempt to get the local government to intervene with the company on the workers' behalf. On 20 October, both Ding and Liu were arrested for "assembling to disturb social order." There has been no further news of their fate since then. [Sentence unknown]

Zhu Fangming

In May 1989, Zhu, then a 28 year old worker at the Hengyang City (Hunan Province) Flour Factory and vice chairman of the Hengyang City Workers Autonomous Federation, organized demonstrations and took part in a sit in protest in front of the municipal government offices After the June 4 crackdown that year, he allegedly led workers to the municipal Public Security Bureau to denounce the repression and demand justice. According to a report in the Hunan Daily, Zhu was arrested and then sentenced in December 1989 by the Hengyang City Intermediate People's Court to life imprisonment on a charge of "hooliganism." He is believed to be currently held in Hengyang Prison (Hunan Provincial No 2 Prison). In October 2005, the Chinese government maintained that Zhu "was never punished for his activities in 1989 and it stated that he is once again working at Hengyang's Xihu Flour Factory. This information conflicts, however, with the original sentencing report in Hunan Daily. [Life Imprisonment?]


Du Hongqi

Presumed released in November 2006, following completion of a three year prison sentence on the charge of "gathering a crowd to disturb social order." Du Hongqi and his wife, Li Tingying, both workers at an armaments factory in Chongqing, Sichuan, run by the South China Industries Group, were detained for independent trade union organizing activities on 24 November 2003. The Chongqing No.338 Factory was going bankrupt and had been taken over by another enterprise, and 700 of the 1500 factory workers were then laid off. Du and Li had founded an unofficial trade union in September 2003 to fight for better working conditions and had organized their fellow workers to carry out several petition and protest actions. (Li Tingying was also detained by police in late 2003, but she was subsequently released without being tried or sentenced ).

Kong Jun

Released in late 2006 or early 2007. For details, see case of Li Xintao, above.

Liao Shihua

Liao Shihua, now 57 years old, released on 5 June 2005 after completing a six year prison sentence. A worker at the Changsha Automobile Electronics Factory, Hunan Province, in October 1998 Liao led a mass protest action against corruption at the factory and calling for proper health care coverage and housing benefits for the factory's retired and laid off workers. In June 1999, Liao joined with more than 100 laid off workers to stage a demonstration in front of the Hunan provincial government headquarters, demanding a resolution to the area's unemployment problems. After addressing the crowd, Liao was escorted away by an unknown person and then officially detained on grounds of "inciting the masses to attack a government office." On 7 July 1999, he was formally charged with "conspiring to subvert state power" and "assembling a crowd to disrupt traffic," and he was subsequently tried and sentenced to six years' imprisonment.

Xiao Yunliang

For details, see case of Yao Fuxin, above. Xiao Yunliang, a leader of the March 2002 mass worker protest movement in Liaoyang City, Liaoning, was released on 23 February 2006, just 24 days before his prison sentence was due to end. Like his fellow detained labour leader, Yao Fuxin, he suffered serious health problems throughout his imprisonment, and his health situation has remained poor since his release. Xiao is partially blind and is suffering from various illnesses including chronic respiratory disease.

Yang Jianli

A US based research scholar and political dissident, Yang participated in the Tiananmen Square pro democracy movement in 1989; his name was on a 1994 PRC police blacklist of 49 Chinese pro democracy activists who were barred from re entering China. Yang Jianli entered China in April 2002 by using a friend's passport, as part of a plan to try and investigate the rapidly growing labour unrest situation in the cities of Shenyang, Liaoyang and Daqing in northeastern China. He was detained on 26 April 2002 and officially arrested by the Beijing State Security Bureau on 28 April 2002. He was then held in incommunicado detention for the next 15 months (well beyond the legally permitted maximum period for pre trial detention). On 13 May 2004, Yang was tried in a closed court hearing on charges of "espionage" and "illegal entry," and was sentenced to a term of five years' imprisonment. He was released in April 2007.

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