CRIMINAL TRIALS OF THE DETAINED TIESHU TEXTILE WORKERS BEGIN: Two Tried, Two More Awaiting Trial
The Suizhou Procuratorate alleged that on 8 February, Chen Kehai was one of "more than 1,000" laid-off Tieshu Textile Factory workers who forced their way into the factory to prevent a new company (set up in the wake of the original factory's bankruptcy) from beginning its first day of operations there. His "offences" are officially described as being "serious". Zhao Yong was alleged to have participated in the 8 February protest march that went from the gates of the former Tieshu Textile Factory into the city centre, and from there to the main railway line, which the workers proceeded to block for several hours. The only evidence offered to indicate why Zhao - out of over 1000 workers - was one of those singled out for trial is that he is alleged to have stated during the march: "There’s an alley here; it leads up to the railway line."
Four other Tieshu Textile Factory workers detained around the same time – Wang Hanwu, Sheng Bing, Wei Yiming and Hu Wenzhong – have all recently been released. (A fifth detainee, a woman named Chen Xiuhua, was sent home by police in late February because of illness.) This is despite the fact that at least four of these five workers had already been given terms of "re-education through labour" (RTL), an administrative punishment imposed by the police which bypasses the criminal justice system. Wang Hanwu had been sentenced to 27 months in RTL, Sheng Bing to 21 months, Wei Yiming to 18 months, and Chen Xiuhua to a one-year term. It is unclear whether or not Hu Wenzhong had also been sentenced to RTL prior to his release.
According to CLB's information, at least one of these five workers had earlier been formally charged under the Criminal Law and had faced criminal trial proceedings. Contrary to due legal process, the Suizhou authorities have reportedly failed to withdraw the formal charges against those released and have not provided documents certifying that their RTL sentences have been revoked. Technically, the door remains open for any of them to be re-detained or criminally prosecuted at any time.
China Labour Bulletin urges the Suizhou authorities to immediately release Chen Kehai, Zhao Yong, Zhu Guo and Yang Yongcai, the four workers now facing criminal sentence or trial. CLB believes that the Tieshu Textile Factory workers’ resort to acts of mass civil disobedience on February 8 was a direct result of the local authorities' consistent refusal to respond to the workers' longstanding attempts to resolve the dispute through peaceful negotiation and administrative complaint procedures.
"The trial of Chen Kehai and Zhao Yong clearly shows the Suizhou authorities’ determination to disregard the Tieshu workers' 15-month campaign for a peaceful resolution of their legitimate complaints" said Han Dongfang, CLB Director. "If any guilt is to apportioned for what happened in Suizhou on February 8, then the local government must take the lion’s share of it," Han added.
China Labour Bulletin calls upon the Suizhou authorities to end their repression of the workers' movement at the now-bankrupt Tieshu Textile Factory, and instead to launch a full and independent inquiry into the workers' claims of major corruption by the factory’s former management.
For background information on the 8 February demonstration and the subsequent arrests see: 28 February press release:
...and 26 March Appeal:
Please note that the information above updates previous information given on the names, numbers and official legal handling of those arrested after the 8 February protest.