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Liaoyang Activists Warned to Avoid American Delegation

April 21, 2003

For Immediate Release

Human Rights in China (HRIC) has learned from a number of sources in China that several labor activists in the northeastern city of Liaoyang were detained by police over the weekend and warned to have no contact with a contingent of American diplomats and foreign reporters due to visit Liaoyang later this week.

Sources say labor leaders Wang Zhaoming, Pang Qingxiang and Wang Dawei, among others, were picked up in their homes and taken back to the Liaoyang Municipal Public Security Bureau. There police officers referred to an upcoming visit by American embassy personnel and reporters, who had stated their intention to meet with labor leaders. The police warned the activists that if any of them had any contact with the diplomats or journalists, they would face serious consequences.

In addition to warning these activists, on the morning of April 21 police stormed into the homes of Yao Fuxin and Xiao Yunliang, who are currently in custody awaiting the outcome of their January 15 trial. Without presenting any warrants or other legal documentation, the police remained in the homes monitoring family members until at least 9 o’clock that night.

The incidents highlight the degree of official sensitivity over the fallout from mass demonstrations last March by tens of thousands of workers protesting alleged corruption and other abuses at the bankrupt Liaoyang Ferro-Alloy Factory. Yao Fuxin and Xiao Yunliang are currently facing subversion charges over their participation in the demonstrations. The demonstrations, and the government’s subsequent actions against the demonstrators, have raised widespread international concern. The upcoming visit by American diplomats is seen as a means for the U.S. government to demonstrate open support for the Liaoyang workers.

HRIC deplores Chinese officials’ attempts to prevent worker representatives from meeting the American delegation and media. “These workers have the basic human right to peacefully express their views, whether it’s to the international community or to people within China,” said HRIC president Liu Qing. “The workers have been protesting serious problems that exist in China. The Chinese government should try to address these problems rather than persecute those who expose them.”

HRIC calls for the Chinese government to desist in its harassment of the labor activists and their families, and to allow the American delegation full access to any workers who are willing to meet with them.

For more information, contact:
Stacy Mosher (English) 212-268-9074
Liu Qing (Chinese) 212-239-4495