21 March 2003
China Labour Bulletin was reliably informed today that a retired worker who wrote the protest banners and poems displayed by former employees of the Tieshu Textile Group, in Suizhou City, Hubei Province, during their collective demonstration outside the factory gate last week has now been secretly arrested.
(For further information on the Tieshu protest action, see 14 March 2003 Action Express at http://www.clb.org.hk/en/node/2566 )
According to CLBs source, prior to his retirement the detained activist worked as an official in the factorys official trade union branch (ACFTU.) The detainee, whose name is not known, was reportedly seized at his home by plainclothes police officers one or two days ago at around midnight. He is believed to be still held in police custody.
This is the second detention carried out by police this week in Suizhou in connection with the Tieshu textile workers protest. At around 10.00 am on the morning of 19 March, a large group of plainclothes police arrived at the factory gates in an unmarked vehicle and forcibly detained another worker (identity also unknown), despite the vehement opposition of around 100 retired worker demonstrators from the factory who surged forward in an attempt to protect the man. In that incident, the detainee was released by the police about an hour later.
The poems which, along with the banners strewn across the factory gates led to the unknown mans secret detention, included the following:
Three strange things are happening in Suizhou:
On politics, officials say whatever they like;
Tieshu factory goes bankrupt without reason;
And the bells of feudalism ring out anew.
Power has become the plaything of officials,
Though we have the truth all on our side.
When our very subsistence goes unprotected,
What fear have we of donning prison shackles?
Its we who are the creditors here,
And were determined to stick up for our rights.
We dont care how high up the debtors are:
Unpaid debts must be met!
(translated from the Chinese by CLB)
China Labour Bulletin urges the Chinese authorities to end the arbitrary detention of workers for their involvement in legitimate and peaceful demonstrations and instead to respond to the demands of the workers for an end to official corruption and non-payment of basic wages and pensions.