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Message-ID: <348B57AC.68A9@hk.super.net>
Date: Mon, 08 Dec 1997 10:13:00 +0800
From: alarm <alarm@HK.Super.NET>
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To: apecforum-l@netserver.web.net
Subject: apec-L: Demonstration in Sichuan, China
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6,000 protesting Sichuan workers blockade streets

South China Morning Post, 6 December 1997

Reports by the Human Rights in China group yesterday give the first indication of the large numbers of involved in Thursday's demonstration.

At least 4,000 people, mostly laid-off workers now self-employed as drivers - gathered to demand talks with the city government over the rules. Municipal officials ignored previous calls for talks. At the height of the protest, spectators and residents sympathetic to the protesting workers swelled the crowd to more than 10,000, the human rights group said.

The protesters occupied three main thoroughfares - an intersection, a new bridge and the railway station. They numbered from 2000 to 3000 from midnight. Police took no action to disperse the demonstrators but stood 200 to 300 strong in each area where the protesters gathered, the group said. However, an official with Zigong Public Security Bureau claimed only a few drivers had conducted a park-in protest, blocking a road with their vehicles.

The road was cleared and all protesters disperesed by 10 pm, he said. Others who gathered were only curious onlookers and did not join the protest, he added. A city government official some drivers were not complying with the ban, which took force on 8 November and was needed to ease congested traffic.

Many similar workers protest have taken place in Sichuan, home to legions of state industries struggling under huge debts, bad management and outdated equipments. In Zigong, large numbers of state workers have been laid-off. Workers have taken to the streets at least five times in the past 14 months. At least four people, unable to find work, had committed suicide, Human in Rights in China said.

On Wednesday, 200 retired workers from a fertiliser factory blocked traffic in Yibin city, Sichuan because they had not been receiving pension payments, some had not been paid in a year.