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Hong Kong-based China Labour Bulletin (CLB) has demanded the immediate release of a journalist, arre

Published by MAC on 2005-10-26

Hong Kong-based China Labour Bulletin (CLB) has demanded the immediate release of a journalist, arrested for publicising last month's attack by police on a nonviolent demonstration at the Chongqing Steel Plant, which reportedly left two women workers dead. Meanwhile, after failing to take over Noranda last year, Chinese investors are eagerly seeking stakes in Saskatchewan's natural resources

CLB Calls for Immediate Release of Internet Writer Detained for Publicizing Recent Mass Protests by Chongqing Steel Workers

China Labour Bulletin Press Release No. 9 (2005-10-27)

A former textile-company employee turned businessman who posted online reports about a recent series of protest demonstrations by steel workers in Chongqing has disappeared and is believed to be in police custody.

Shi Xiaoyu was taken away by police from his home in Shaoxing, Zhejiang province, on 20 October, according to China Rights Defenders and the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ). The rights groups said Chongqing police traveled to his home in Zhejiang on 19 October and detained him, confiscating his computer and other materials the next day.

The 50-year-old internet commentator had been posting information online about the Chongqing steel workers' protests, which began in August this year. The workers were demanding that the company, which used to be one of China's top 500 industrial companies but was recently declared bankrupt, should pay them 2,000 yuan each in severance payment for their loss of employment. The Chongqing police cracked down violently on the workers' demonstration on 7 October, reportedly causing the deaths of two women protestors. In addition, 24 demonstrating workers were injured and three of their leaders were detained the same day. (For further information on the Chongqing steel workers' protests, see CLB's report of 14 October: Two Women Reportedly Killed, and Three Workers' Leaders Detained, During Police Crackdown on Mass Protest at Chongqing Steel Plant)

"Instead of simply 'shooting the messenger' by detaining Shi Xiaoyu for publicizing the police violence at the Chongqing Steel Plant, the Chinese authorities should instead be actively investigating reports that two innocent women died as a result of the police crackdown on the workers' protest," said CLB's director Han Dongfang. "Shi is not a dissident, and he was not even criticizing government policies. He was merely informing the Chinese public about a major case of labour unrest in his hometown," he added. "The authorities should be encouraging such public-spirited activity, not suppressing it."

China Labour Bulletin calls on the Chongqing police to release Shi Xiaoyu immediately and to cease participating in the official cover-up of the violent police crackdown on 7 October in Chongqing against peacefully demonstrating steel workers.

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