Crackdown in Daqing with 60 Arrests and Police Beating

(Broadcast on 1 April, 2002)

For the past two weeks, the protests in Daqing have continued. As a result of the scant information coming out of the city, many people have assumed that the protests have gradually run their course and petered out. However, this is not the case. A retrenched worker who has been to Iron Man Square every day for the past few two weeks gives CLB details of what has been happening.

Worker:

Right now the workers are furious. Many of them want to drench the leaders' cars in petrol and burn them - if they can find them. Things have got really fierce over the last few days. One official had the wheels of his car removed and a key was used to scratch the word "bastard" on the paint work. Offices have been attacked and windows broken - it's very serious at the moment. On 18 March, the offices of the trade union, finance department and general administration were attacked.

Han:

Has everyone calmed down over the last few days?

Worker:

No, not at all. With some people so rich and others so poor, are people going to just sit back and do nothing? An unjust society is going to be an unstable society.

She also described how a squad of 800 People's Armed Police (PAP) have been deployed round-the-clock to protect the homes of senior cadres. Feelings are running very high so the authorities have prepared for all contingencies.

Worker:

The minimum social insurance premium we pay is Rmb 2,600 per annum. If we pay this, it leaves us with hardly any money to eat. How can we live like that? In Daqing, a pound of fresh beans costs three bucks, cucumbers one and a half and the same for tomatoes. We are barely eating enough, while the officials and managers are very comfortably off. For the past year they have been carrying out this "reduce staff and increase efficiency" policy while at the same time [giving themselves] hundreds of thousands of yuan in bonuses. It's corruption that allows them to live in 200 plus square metre though they don't do anything for ordinary people. Take the chief of police and top cadres like him. They live in special houses. Daqing now has a squad of 800 PAP to guard the leaders' housing compounds round-the-clock. These people are scared to sleep at night.

She also said that she personally had witnessed three workers being detained. One has been released and came back to Iron Man Square today. The other two are still locked up. One detainee is an approximately 50-year old woman worker who is refusing food.

Worker:

They were picked up and locked up in police cells.

Han:

Have they all been released now?

Worker:

No. There is still a woman worker who is refusing food.

Han:

She's still inside and on hunger strike?

Worker:

That's right. I think her surname is Ma. She managed to get a letter out today saying she had refused food for the last few days. She's the same woman who had the megaphone in the Square. She was saying to everyone that we're all retrenched workers and there was no need to smash things up as it would only play into the hands of bad people like the Falungong who would manipulate [the protests]. She said we must respect public order and not break windows and doors. I head her say all this as I have been down to the Square everyday for over a month. I reckon she is right. At about 4 o'clock in the afternoon that day, she was grabbed by three plain-clothes police. The people who saw it say she was hit and blood was coming from her mouth. I heard today that she was carrying on the struggle by refusing food.

Han:

When was she arrested?

Worker:

The 4 or 5 of March.

Han:

Those were the two days of the largest protests?

Worker:

Yes.

Han:

And she was detained after she had made a speech and was on her way home.

Worker:

Yes. There's another [detained] guy called Li Yan. He's about 60 years old and retired, not a retrenched worker. I heard that he used to work for a building materials enterprise. Also another young bloke who I saw at the Square today. He was in a detention centre for 20 days. He paid them Rmb 200 and just got out today. I think he was detained, around 4 March, for hanging a banner.

Han:

Was he beaten?

Worker:

Yes. He said that they hit him with a floor mop until it broke into three or four pieces. He told us that they charged Rmb 50 for a packet of Daqing brand tobacco. He was in the "Dong Feng" detention centre.

Han:

And he was locked up for 20 days but still keeps going to the Square.

Worker:

That's right.

Han:

Isn't he scared?

Worker:

No. He says he is prepared to die in the Square.

She also said that three people who had been reading [satirical] poems and rhymes in the Square had since disappeared.

Worker:

One of them was a woman. She had some rhymes and they say this person has not been seen and has been detained for making reactionary speeches and agitating. There was another guy who had another [good] rhyme. He hasn't been seen since either.

[Rhymes not included in the translation of this transcript - CLB]

Han:

What happened to him?

Worker:

He's finished too. I've got loads of this stuff. I copy the good ones down as a souvenir every time I go to the Square.

She also told CLB that on 5 March, ten workers' representatives entered the building of the DPAB for negotiations and did not come back out. Moreover, she had seen 4 or 5 people pasting up bill stickers for the Provisional Trade Union and these people havehas also disappeared.

Worker:

On 5 March, the government told us to select ten representatives [to negotiate] but they were detained after they entered the building and didn't come out again. They were taken away and locked up. After they were detained, a former work unit leader was taken back to his house and had to write a pledge not to leave his home. If he did, he would be detained. He even had to mark the pledge with a thumbprint.

Han:

So that's why no representatives have been elected since this incident.

Worker:

That's right. Who's going to risk it when they have already detained ten people.

Han:

In the first few days of the demonstrations we heard that some people were putting up bills and posters in the name of the Standing Committee of the "Retrenched Workers Provisional Trade Union"?

Worker:

Yes. They were putting them up on the DPAB's walls south west of the main gate. These people have also been detained. They are not around anymore. EveryAnyone who writes or puts up posters and stickers, slogans or hangs banners has beenis taken away. These provisional trade union people were maybe doing the ground work by putting up posters and bills [in the trade union's name]. The posters that have gone up since are not signed by the provisional trade union or anyone else. They just have the date at the bottom.

Han:

Are there daily posters going up now?

Worker:

Oh yes. On Friday and Saturday there were posters covering a whole wall, 19 in all. On Sunday, they were scrubbed off.

Han:

Are they being put up openly or in secret?

Worker:

Openly.

Han:

Are the people who were putting up the posters for the provisional trade union the same people putting these posters up openly?

Worker:

It's all done openly.

Han:

Have any of these people been detained?

Worker:

Maybe, I haven't seen anything.

Han:

Have you seen these people before?

Worker:

I have seen them but not since they finished putting up posters. People are saying they have been detained because they haven't been seen around. Or: but I haven't seen anything.


Han:

How would you describe these people?

Worker:

They are all workers. About 40 or 50 years old. The people demonstrating are all different types. There are engineers, basic-level cadres, technicians, technical assistants and teachers. More than 40 teachers from the DaqingPAB's Vvocational Tteachers Ccollege, 2,000 plus from the middle and primary schools - all these people have been retrenched. As well as a few hundred teachers from Daqing's Technical College. These people are the backbone of the industry and very highly educated. Some of the teachers are still very young.

Han:

How many people did you see directly involved with the provisional trade union?

Worker:

Maybe four or five people. They all seemed pretty clued up and well educated. Able to write well and speak articulately and they understood the law as well.

Not long ago a private car drove into the crowd and injured several protestors. According to this worker, the people at the Square who witnessed the incident say the driver had deliberately come to stir things up. Some people are still in hospital as a result of their injuries.

Worker:

We were at the Square at the time and saw exactly what happened. On that day there were about 30,000 people. A private car mowed down maybe seven or eight people.

Han:

What was he playing at? Was he drunk?

Worker:

He was looking for trouble. People were saying the government had put him up to it. This driver, Zhu Dayong, He was driving a black Volkswagen Santana. The coppers had to load him into a police van for his own protection or he would have been killed by the crowd. In the end, they flipped his car on to its back.

Han:

Where is this guy now?

Worker:

He's penned up in the Dong Feng detention centre.

Han:

Has he been beaten up?

Worker:

No.

Han:

And how are the people who were injured?

Worker:

They are still in Long Nan Hospital and No. 4 Hospital. Their injuries are serious.

Finally she said that some workers at the Square are really angry. Some of the things they are saying are really frightening:

Stuff like "f**k that bastard so and so. Does the oil belong to him? When all this oil was discovered, it belonged to the country. This so and so gets hundreds of thousand of bucks every year. Makes me want go and blow up the pipelines. See if they can use the oil then. See what they can do then? The workers are furious at the [salaries and perks] these officials are taking home. They are not educated people and are capable of anything. On the day that the Pentagon was attacked in the US, people were saying if a place like that can go up in smoke then so can the DPAB building. Nothing to it. A bit of dynamite and then up she goes. Of course, these words were said in anger, but anything could happen. If you have been pushed to the edge then there's nothing left to be afraid of.

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