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Imprisoned Workers

In the highly charged atmosphere of economic reform in the late-1990s and early-2000s, tens of millions of workers were laid off from state-owned enterprises. Many of those workers staged protests against the lay-offs and the perceived corruption of enterprise and government officials in the process.

Dozens of worker activists were arrested and later sentenced to long prison terms for their role in protecting the rights and interests of their co-workers. While most have now been released, several remain in jail today.

China Labour Bulletin has sought to keep track of worker activists imprisoned over the years and has compiled a list that includes some of the best known figures in the movement. Although fewer and fewer worker activists are getting long term jail sentences, CLB still tries to record any arrests that lead to detention of more than one year. The list below is by no means complete or a definitive record. Rather it is testament to the efforts and sacrifice of those activists who fought for workers’ rights and paid the price.

I.CURRENTLY IMPRISONED

Jiang Cunde 蒋存德
Kong Youping 孔佑平
Li Jianfeng 李建峰
Liu Jian 刘健
Wang Miaogen 王妙根
Xue Mingkai 薛明凯


II.CURRENT STATUS UNCLEAR

Ding Xiulan 丁秀兰 and Liu Meifeng 刘美凤
Tang Aimin 唐爱民, Hu Weimin 胡卫民
Zhu Fangming 朱芳鸣

III.CONFIRMED OR PRESUMED RELEASED / DIED IN PRISON

Chen Yuping 陈玉平
Du Hongqi 杜红旗
Gao Hongming 高洪明
He Chaohui 何朝辉
Hu Jing 胡敬
Hu Shigen 胡石根
Kong Jun 孔君
Li Guohong 李国宏
Li Shuchun 李淑春
Li Wangyang 李旺阳
Li Xintao 李信涛
Liao Shihua 廖实华
Liu Zhihua 刘智华
Luo Mingzhong 罗明忠
Luo Huiquan 骆惠全
Luo Xi 罗茜
Miao Jinhong 苗金红
Ni Xianfei 倪显飞 
Ning Xianhua 宁先华
Ren Fengyu 任风玉
Shao Liangchen 邵良臣
She Wanbao 酓万宝
Wang Sen 王森
Xiao Yunliang 肖云良
Yang Huanqing 杨焕青
Yang Jianli 杨建利
Yao Fuxin 姚福信
Yue Tianxiang 岳天祥
Zha Jianguo 查建国
Zhang Shanguang 张善光
Zhao Changqing 赵常青
Zhao Dongmin 赵东民
Zhou Yuanwu 周远武

 

CURRENTLY IMPRISONED

Hu Mingjun 胡明君

  • Sentenced to 11 years imprisonment in 2001 for "subvertion of state power"
  • Due for release in late May 2012

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 1,000 workers at the factory had organised 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 being held at Chuanzhong Prison in Gaoping District, Nanchong City, Sichuan, where he is reportedly seriously ill.

胡明君is one of many pennames used by Hu. His actual name is 胡明军.

Jiang Cunde 蒋存德

  • Worker, political activist
  • Sentenced to life imprisonment in 1999 for "crimes of counter-revolutionary"(commuted to 20 years in 2004)
  • Due for release in August 2024

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, Jiang was released from Shanghai’s Tilanqiao Prison on medical parole. Six years later, however, he was rearrested for having allegedly “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 for release 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.

Kong Youping 孔佑平

  • Sentenced to 1 year’s imprisonment in 1999 for “incitement to subvert state power”
  • Sentenced to 15 years’ imprisonment in 2004 for “subversion of state power”
  • 15 year sentence revised to ten years at court of second instance
  • Estimated release date at end of 2012

Kong, 54 years old, was originally a former official trade union chairman at a state-owned enterprise in Liaoning province, 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 4 June Massacre. Kong Youping was sentenced to 15 years' imprisonment for “subversion of state power” on 16 September 2004 by the Shenyang Intermediate People's Court.

Li Jianfeng 李建峰
Prosecutors charged Li and seven other defendants with organizing, in 2000, an illegal “labour union” called the “Labour and Employment Research Association” and plotting to shoot out the windows of the chief judge of the Ningde Intermediate People’s Court. The defendants denied the charges and claimed that police trying to frame them had committed torture and fabricated evidence.

Liu Jian 刘健

  • Sentenced to life imprisonment in 1989 for “hooliganism” and “intentional injury”

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.

Wang Miaogen 王妙根

  • Sentenced to two and half years detention without trial in 1989
  • Detained in a psychiatric institute since 1993

Wang was born in 1950 in Shenyang, Liaoning province and was a manual worker in Shanghai. At the time of the May 1989 pro-democracy movement, Wang organized the Shanghai Workers Autonomous Federation, and was sent to “re-education through labour” for two and a half years for his active participation into the pro-democracy movement. In April 1993, Wang, 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 detained 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 been held incommunicado at Shanghai Ankang for more than 15 years.

Xue Mingkai 薛明凯

  • Sentenced to one and a half year’s imprisonment for “subversion of state power” in 2010
  • Released end of 2010
  • Arrested again on 23 April on charges of "incitement to subvert state power."

On 10 February, 2010, Xue Mingkai, a 20-year old factory worker from Shandong, was sentenced to one and a half year’s imprisonment for subversion of state power by the Shenzhen Intermediate Court after joining the US-based China Democracy Party. The prosecutor also claimed that Xue had started a discussion about setting up a Democratic Workers’ Party (中国民主工民党) on the Internet in 2006.

He was released at the end of 2010 but detained again soon afterwards whilst looking for work in Hangzhou and taken back to his home town in Shandong. On 23 April, he was arrested on charges of "incitement to subvert state power." Last known contact with friends on 1 November 2011.

 CURRENT STATUS UNCLEAR

Ding Xiulan 丁秀兰 and Liu Meifeng 刘美凤

  • Arrested on 20 Oct 2004 for “assembling a crowd to disturb social order”

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.

Tang Aimin 唐爱民, Hu Weimin 胡卫民

In July 2008, workers of the Chongqing City Tongliang County Silk Factory (重庆市铜梁县丝娟绸有限公司) occupied the factory protesting that their rights to pension and medical insurance had not been considered in the bankruptcy process.

On 15 February 2009, five worker representatives, Tang Aimin (唐爱民), Hu Weimin (胡卫民), Li Taiyuan (李太元), Ou Hongyong (欧红勇) and Wang Yu (汪宇) were arrested. Three of them were detained between ten to fifteen days. Tang and Hu were charged of “gathering a crowd to disrupt social order”. Other workers involved were summoned or “invited for chats” by the local police. Police warned the workers that if they continued to “stir up trouble”, they would be arrested as well, and these workers were closely monitored and followed by the police. According to the workers, the police said that Tang and Hu would be sentenced to between three and seven years’ imprisonment. The criminal trial against Tang and Hu was heard in August 2009, but no reports of Tang and Hu have emerged since.

Zhu Fangming 朱芳鸣

  • Sentenced to life imprisonment in 1989 for “hooliganism”

In May 1989, Zhu, 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 currently believed to be 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 is at total variance, however, with the original report in Hunan Daily.

 CONFIRMED OR PRESUMED RELEASED / DIED IN PRISON

Chen Yuping 陈玉平

  • Sentenced to re-education through labour, for “disturbing social order” for one and a half years in 2008
  • Released 28 July 2009

Chen Yuping was sentenced to re-education through labour, for organizing an independent trade union. In 2004 the Jilin state-owned petroleum corporation started to lay off workers. One of those laid off, Chen Yuping, was elected as a workers’ representative. In February 2008 Chen and other workers applied to the Songyuan city ACFTU to set up a trade union but the application was rejected. Workers’ representatives also circulated a report on the company’s lay off plan and the union application amongst employees. As a result, Chen was threatened and was put under surveillance by the Songyuan public security bureau. In April 2008, Chen released the report to several overseas media organizations. On 10 April 2008, Chen was detained and on 6 May 2008 he was sentenced to one and a half years of re-education through labour, for "disturbing social order".

After his release in July 2009, Chen almost immediately began petitioning the government for redress against his sentences.

Two other workers Zhang Fuhui and Huang Jingzhe were detained for ten days for talking to overseas media.

Du Hongqi 杜红旗

  • 3 years’ imprisonment in 2004 for “gathering a crowd to disturb social order”
  • Presumed to have been released in November 2006 after having served his full prison term)

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. Du was sentenced to 3 years’ imprisonment on 18 October 2004. (Li Tingying was also detained by police in late 2003, but she was subsequently released without being tried or sentenced.)

Gao Hongming 高洪明

1950 –

  • Sentenced to 8 years’ imprisonment in 1999 for “subversion of state power”
  • Released on 28 June 2007

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 for organizing memorial activities for the June 4 Incident. On August 2, Gao was sentenced to eight years’ imprisonment and Zha to nine years for “subversion of state power”. On September 17, 1999 the Beijing High People's Court rejected the appeals of both men. Gao was released from Beijing No. 2 Prison on 28 June 2007.

Follow Gao Hongming on Twitter

He Chaohui 何朝辉

1961 -

  • Sentenced to 4 years’ imprisonment in 1990 for organizing a strike by railway workers
  • Sentenced to 10 years’ imprisonment in 1999 for “"endangering national security and illegally providing information to foreign organizations” (reduced by one year in 2004)
  • Presumed to have been released on 10 October 2007 after having served his full prison term

He Chaohui, 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 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 the recent workers' protests in Hunan. He was later released due to a lack of evidence, but was then rearrested May 1999 on the charge of "endangering national 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 was released from Hunan Province’s Chishan Prison on 10 October 2007.

Hu Jing 胡敬

A laid-off workers’ representative from the bankrupt Jianshe Motorcycle Corporation in Chongqing. In 2005, after petitioning on behalf of workers' rights in Beijing, Hu was sent by Chongqing Police to a local psychiatric institution where he was reportedly mistreated. After release, Hu obtained an independent diagnosis from another hospital that pronounced him mentally healthy. Allegedly being unhappy about Hu getting an independent mental assessment, the Chongqing Police sent him back to the local psychiatric institution in November 2007. Hu was subsequently released on 10 January 2008.

Hu Shigen 胡石根

1954 –

  • Political activist
  • Sentenced to 20 years’ imprisonment in 1994 after two years’ detention for “organizing and leading a counterrevolutionary group”, and “engaging in counterrevolutionary propaganda and incitement” (reduced by 7 months in 2005; reduced by another 17 months in 2007, and another 21 months on 1 April 2008)
  • Released on 26 August 2008

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, and suspension of political rights for five years. He received a seven-month sentence reduction in December 2005. He was given an additional 17-month sentence reduction in 2007, and another reduction by 21 months on 1 April 2008, Released on 26 August 2008.

Kong Jun 孔君

  • Labour rights activist
  • Sentenced to 2 years’ imprisonment in 2005 for “disrupting government institutions” and “disturbing social order”
  • Released in late 2006 or early 2007 after having served her full prison term

Kong Jun, female, aged 42, and Li Xintao male, aged 52, 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 organised 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. Released in late 2006 or early 2007.

Li Guohong 李国宏

1966-

  • Sent to Re-education through labour for one and a half years in November 2007
  • Released on medical parole in October 2008

Li Guohong was a laid-off workers’ representative of the Zhongyuan Oil Field, owned by China Petroleum and Chemical Corporation (Sinopec). Since 2001, Zhongyuan Oil Field has laid-off 10,000 workers without adequate compensation. In 2006, representatives of the dismissed workers petitioned the higher authorities, and in 2007 planned to bring their case to court. Because of this, many suffered beatings and detention. On October 31, Li went to the headquarters of the Zhongyuan Oil Field in Puyang, Henan province, to learn about workers in detention, but was placed in administrative detention for 15 days. When he was due to be released on 16 November, the Zhongyuan Oil Field Public Security Bureau sent him to the Henan Puyang Work Camp for Re-education Through Labour for one and a half years. While in detention, Li was deprived of visitation rights until in January 2008 when he staged a hunger strike that attracted intense local and overseas concern. Forced labour, physical and psychological abuse seriously damaged his eyesight and mental health. Released October 2008.

Li Shuchun 李淑春

  • Sentenced to 18 months of imprisonment for "gathering a mob to disrupt traffic" on 20 August 2008
  • Released on bail in March 2009
  • No retrial as March 2011

Li was a former worker at a stock-breeding centre at the Red Flag Farm, Yilan county, Heilongjiang. On the morning of 15 August 2007, Li and more than 50 fellow workers went to the provincial capital Harbin to present a petition concerning social insurance rights and alleged management corruption at the livestock centre. As the petitioners turned into a suburban highway in the main town of Yilan County, they clashed with traffic police and government officials who attempted to thwart the petitioners. Li was placed under administrative detention by Yilan County on 15 January 2008, and was formally arrested for “mass disruption of traffic” on 4 March. Li was sentenced to 18 months imprisonment for “gathering a mob to disrupt traffic” on 20 August 2008. In January 2009, the Harbin Intermediate Court sent Li’s case for retrial, and Li was released on bail in March 2009.

Li Wangyang 李旺阳

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. His eyesight is also seriously impaired. 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. Confirmed released on 5 May 2011.

 

Li Xintao 李信涛

  • Sentenced to 5 years of imprisonment in 2005 for “disrupting government institutions" and "disturbing social order"
  • Presumed to have been released in November 2009

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.

 

Liao Shihua 廖实华

1949-

  • Sentenced to 6 years’ imprisonment in 1999 for "subversion of state power" and "assembling a crowd to disrupt traffic"
  • Released in June 2005

Liao Shihua, a native of Changsha, Hunan province, was worker at the Changsha Automobile Electronics Factory. 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 "subversion of state power" and "assembling a crowd to disrupt traffic," and he was subsequently tried and sentenced to six years' imprisonment, and suspension of political rights for one year. He was released from the Hunan No. 1 Prison in June 2005 after completing a six-year prison sentence.

Liu Zhihua 刘智华

  • Sentenced to life imprisonment in 1989 for “hooliganism” and “injury with intent” (reduced to 15 years in 1993)
  • Another 5 years for “injury with intent” ( reduced by 2 years in 2001, and further reduced by 2 years in December 2008)
  • Total sentence: 20 years
  • Released in January 2009 from Loudi Prison in Hunan province

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: the 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, Lui Zhihua's sentence was again reduced by two years, He was released in January 2009 from Loudi Prison in Hunan.

Luo Mingzhong 罗明忠

1953 –

Born in 1953 in Sichuan province, 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 the fight for proper compensation when the factory was privatized in 2003. On March 22, 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 arrested the four leaders for allegedly “assembling to disturb public order.” On 26 July 2005.

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 were presumed to be released in August 2007 after completing their sentence.

Luo Huiquan 骆惠全

1957 –

Born in 1957 in Sichuan province, Luo was arrested for his participation in defending workers rights at the Taiyuan Chemical Factory during the privatization of the enterprise. For details, refer to case of Luo Mingzhong.

Luo Xi 罗茜

  • Sentenced to two years’ RTL for “disrupting social order” in January 2010 (扰乱社会秩序)
  • Released 19 July 2011 - freedom still restricted

Luo Xi was arrested on 8 January 2010 for participating and instigating a teachers’ strike in Hunan in December 2008 to demand the same wages and benefits as civil servants. Luo was sentenced to two years’ reeducation through labour (劳动教养) in late January 2010 for “disrupting social order”. Right before Luo was arrested, he was assisting the family of Yang Kuan to seek justice. Yang Kuan, the deputy mayor of Wugang city in Hunan, who was also Luo’s teacher, was found dead in November 2009. The authority concluded that Yang committed suicide by jumping from a height. Yang’s family, nevertheless, argued that Yang was murdered and demanded a reinvestigation.

Luo, who was being held in the Shaoyang City Reeducation Through Labour Camp, was released early on 19 July 2011, although his freedom was still limited.

Miao Jinhong 苗金红

  • Sentenced to 8 years' imprisonment in 2000 (charges unknown)
  • Presumed to have been released in October 2008

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.)

Ni Xianfei 倪显飞

  • Worker
  • Sentenced to 8 years of imprisonment in 2000 (charges unknown)
  • Presumed to have been released in October 2008

Ni Xianfei is also referred to in some media reports as Ni Xiafei 倪夏飞. For details, refer to case of Miao Jinhong.

Ning Xianhua 宁先华

  • Sentenced to 12 years’ imprisonment in 2004 for “subversion”
  • Sentence reduced to seven years
  • Released 15 December 2010
Ning was a construction worker in Shenyang, Liaoning province. On 16 September 2004, he was sentenced to 12 years’ imprisonment for “subversion of state power” for his attempt to organizing an independent trade union. For details, see case of Kong Youping. Released end 2010 after serving reduced sentence in full.

Ren Fengyu 任风玉

On 9 September 2009, Ren Fengyu, a retired worker at the Tonghua Iron & Steel Group Co., Ltd in Tonghua, Jilin Province was sentenced to 18 months’ reeducation through labour for putting up a poster calling for the legalization of a Tonghua workers’ rights organization and the formal election of its representatives. Ren’s sentencing came after the death of steel company executive Chen Guojun at the hands of angry workers protesting the takeover of Tonghua Steel by Chen’s company Jianlong Heavy Machinery on 24 July 2009. The sentencing of Ren was believed to be a means to control and punish Tonghua workers after the July protest. On 15 April 2010, Ji Yigang, an employee at the Tonghua Iron and Steel was found guilty of intentional wounding (故意伤害罪) of Chen and was sentenced to life in prison by the Tonghua Municipal Intermediate Court.

Shao Liangchen 邵良臣

  • Political activist
  • Sentenced to death in 1989, and later commuted to life imprisonment (eventually reduced to 17 years)
  • Died after being released on medical parole in 2004

Originally a driver in Shandong province, Shao became one of the leading members of the Jinan Workers Autonomous Federation, which was formed in Shandong during the May 1989 nationwide pro-democracy movement. He had been serving a 17-year prison sentence for allegedly having resisted the military crackdown on 4 June 1989. He was sentenced to death by the Jinan Intermediate People’s Court, and the sentenced was later reduced to life imprisonment, and then eventually to 17 years' imprisonment. He reportedly died of leukemia in late 2004 shortly after being released on medical parole from Weihu Prison, Shandong.

She Wanbao 佘万宝

She, a labour organizer and a member of the China Democratic Party (CDP), was originally a bank employee in Sichuan. On 3 November 1989, She was convicted of counter-revolutionary propaganda and incitement by the Guangyuan intermediate People’s court in Sichuan province and was sentenced to four years’ imprisonment. He was released in July 1993, but was rearrested around five years later on 10 July 1999 for organizing the Chinese Democratic Party. On 4 August 1999, he was sentenced to 12 years’ imprisonment for subversion of state power by the Guangyuan Intermediate People’s Court, and suspension of political rights for three years. She appealed to the Sichuan Higher People’s Court but was his appeal was overturned. On 9 September 2005, She’s sentence was reduced by six months. He was released on 6 March 2010 and is reportedly struggling with his health and financial difficulties.

Wang Sen 王森

Wang was one of the leaders of the banned China Democratic Party in Sichuan. He was sentenced to 10 years’ imprisonment for organizing a public demonstration demanding payment of unpaid wages for the workers at the Dazhou Steel Mill. For details, see case of Hu Mingjun. Released June 2011.

Xiao Yunliang 肖云良

1949-

Xiao, a native of Liaoning, was sentenced to 4 years’ imprisonment and suspension of political rights for 2 years, for leading a mass worker protest in March 2002 in Liaoyuang city, Liaoning province. He 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. For details, see case of Yao Fuxin, above.

Yang Huanqing 杨焕青

Yang Huanqing was sentenced to one year’s reeducation through labour on 20 November 2009 by the Public Security Bureau in Gongan county, Hubei, for organizing a county-wide rights petition by teachers in June 2009, and a province-wide petition in October 2009. Yang applied for an administrative review of the sentencing, and was released on 29 February 2010 by the Jingzhou city reeducation-through-labour administrative committee.

Received another one year sentence of RTL on 27 January 2011, for organizing teachers to petition in Beijing and disrupting order, presumed now released.

Yang Jianli 杨建利

1963 –

  • Researcher
  • Held in incommunicado detention for 15 months in 2002
  • 5 years’ imprisonment for espionage and illegal entry in 2004
  • Released in April 2007

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.

Yao Fuxin 姚福信

1950 –

  • worker
  • Sentenced to 7 years’ imprisonment in 2003 for “subversion of state power”
  • Released on 16 March 2009

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 and Xiao 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. Released from prison in 2009.

Yue Tianxiang 岳天祥

 

  • Political activist
  • Sentenced to 10 years’ imprisonment in 1999 for “subversion of state power” (reduced by one year in 2005)
  • Released on January 8, 2008
  • Reports of harassment as of 2010

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-entitled 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 then 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 was released 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.)

Zha Jianguo 查建国

1951 -

  • Political activist
  • Sentenced to 9 years in 1999 for ”subversion of state power”
  • Released on 27 June 2008

Zha, a native of Yiqing, Jiangsu province, was the head of a cultural magazine. He was sentenced to 9 years of imprisonment for “subversion of state power” for his attempt to organize a tenth anniversary memorial for the June 4 Incident in 1999. Zha is serving his term in the Beijing No. 2 Prison. For details, see Gao Hongming’s entry above.

Zhang Shanguang 张善光

 

  • Teacher / Labour rights activist
  • Sentenced to 7 years imprisonment in 1989
  • Sentenced to 10 years imprisonment in 1998 for "endangering national security”
  • Released on 19 July 2008

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," On 27 December 1998, Zhang was tried close door and sentenced to 10 years' imprisonment for “endangering national security.” His tuberculosis has continued to worsen and he is reportedly now in very poor medical condition. In December 2002 he was transferred to the hospital of Hunan Jinshi Prison. Released 19 July 2008

Detained briefly during the "Jasmine Revolution" crackdown of 2011

Zhao Changqing 赵常青

1969-

  • Worker
  • Sentenced to 3 years in 1998 for “incitement to subvert state power” in 1998
  • Sentenced to 5 years' imprisonment in 2002 for "incitement to subvert state power”
  • Released on 27 November 2007
  • Report of harassment in 2011

Zhao, a native of Shaanxi province, 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 national security." In July that year, he was tried at the Hanzhong City Intermediate People's Court on charges of "incitement to subvert state power" 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. He was released on 27 November 2007 after completing his full term of his sentence.

Still monitored. A report in 2011 claimed Zhao was not allowed to hold his wedding banquet in a previously planned location, and that fellow dissidents were told by Beijing Public Security Bureau that they were not allowed to attend.

Zhao Dongmin 赵东民
Zhao Dongmin, a charismatic Maoist activist from Shaanxi , was, on 1 January 2011, sentenced by the Xi’an Intermediate People’s Court (appeal court) to three years imprisonment, suspended for three years, for “the crime of inciting a crowd to disturb social order.” Subsequently released.

Zhao had been detained on 19 August 2009 and formally arrested on 24 September of the same year. Zhao had helped set up a labour rights group, consisting of more than 380 workers from about 20 SOEs, tasked with overseeing and monitoring SOE restructuring, and reporting corruption and abuses of power. The “Shaanxi Union Rights Defence Representative Congress” was formally banned by the municipal government of Xi’an on 27 July, after which Zhao wrote an open letter protesting the action to the State Council, the municipal, provincial and central committees of the Chinese Communist Party. He was arrested soon afterwards

Zhou Yuanwu 周远武

1965-

  • Worker
  • Sentenced to two and a half years’ imprisonment in 2007 for "obstructing public officers in the execution of their duties”.
  • Assumed to be released on 17 February 2009.

Zhou Yuanwu was a workers' representative at the Jingchu Brewery in Jingzhou, Hubei. When the Jingchu Brewery declared bankrupt in 2002, workers found that the company had not paid the old age and the medical insurance for them. Neither were they compensated according to the law. Zhou led several protests in defense of the factory workers' rights and petitioned to the municipal and the provincial governments. In June 2006, Zhou was forcibly detained and instructed to stop petitioning. After repeated protests, Zhou was released. On 18 August 2006, without formally issuing a subpoena, the Jingzhou District police attempted to arrest Zhou. When he refused, he was beaten up and arrested on the grounds of assaulting a police officer. His case was heard by the Jingzhou District court on 6 April 2007, but Zhou was deprived of his advocate, Chen Xiongyan, after Chen was detained for violating court discipline. On 25 April, workers at the Jingchu Brewery organized a petition in support of Zhou Yuanwu, claiming his face was covered in blood after being beaten by the police and refuting his alleged attack on the police. On 15 May 2007, Zhou was sentenced to two and a half years in prison by the Jingzhou district court for “obstructing public officers in the execution of their duties.