When workers from the Fuxin Steel Ltd. in Tongling, China demanded the owner fulfill his promise for housing that they had already contributed to, they were met with a hired gang that fiercely beat the workers with blunt weapons. The incident killed two and left 14 others severely injured. The assault ignited the rage of thousands of factory workers and they marched in downtown Tongling in protest. A large number of police were deployed to keep the situation under control.
Local authorities are actively censoring information on this matter; postings on online forums have been quickly deleted. When The Epoch Times contacted a local newspaper by phone, they explained that they had received complaints from workers on the day of the beating, but authorities had prevented the publication of this information. An online forum moderator said that he received an order to delete any posting related to the incident.
Workers Beaten to Death, Thousands Take to the Streets
Unidentified eyewitnesses have provided The Epoch Times with details:
“The factory owner hired about 200 thugs from out of town,” explained one man who refused to give his name. “They were all wearing helmets and sunglasses. Rumor has it that these thugs all have gangster backgrounds. They were carrying shovels, rakes, steel pipes, and hammers. They were beating workers like mad. Two workers died and 14 were taken to hospital for emergency treatment.”
“Around noon on [September] 26th, dozens of workers went to the factory to demand a resolution to the housing issue,” said Wong, a worker at the factory. “When they were about 150 feet from the factory doors, 200 armed men came out of nowhere and started beating anyone in sight. They were even hitting women and old people. Cops were standing about 30 feet away, but they just stood and watched. Two workers were beaten to death, and many more were injured.”
“The rest of workers were enraged when they heard about this,” Wong continued. “The anger and frustration that had been building over time just exploded. On September 27, everyone marched down Changjian [a major street in Tongling] heading toward downtown, and people were carrying banners and yelling things like, 'Hand over the killers! Lives lost will be repaid with their lives! We want our co-workers back!' 'Return our co-workers! Blood for blood!' and 'Killers must be punished!' Major intersections were blocked by the protest, and bystanders were giving their support to the protesting workers. Protesters began to leave the area only after the authorities came and said that the issue would be resolved.”
But to date, nothing has been done to address the workers complaints. “It hasn't been resolved yet,” Wong said. “There will probably be more to this story to come.”
Failure to Fulfill Housing Commitment, Joint Extortion
The Epoch Times contacted Tongling People's Hospital, and one doctor confirmed that the facility had admitted more than a dozen injured factory workers on the day of the incident, and added that severely injured individuals were placed in the ICU. However, the Tongling Police Department has denied such a confrontation had ever taken place. No one answered calls at both the steel factory or the city government.
A factory worker named Du explained that Tongling Fuxin Steel Ltd. was established in 1970, the then state owned facility. In 2005, the Tongling city government sold it to a private enterprise in Fujian province.
“Workers lost all their benefits and job security after the factory was sold,” said Du. “The remaining benefits were whittled away by the owner and the government through what they call 'reform.' Their 'reform' means working together to take our money.”
“Back then the factory charged everyone a 50,000 yuan (US$6,500) housing fee and promised to improve the housing situation,” Du continued. “Since that time nothing has been done to change things. This beating is apparently a collaboration between the factory owner, the government, and gangsters. I don't see this being resolved.”
Authorities Silence Media
Insiders told The Epoch Times that the factory definitely has some kind of connection to the local government, because after the incident, the local government worked very hard to cover it up. They were able to silence the media and shut down online forums.
The Epoch Timess contacted a local newspaper by phone, and was directly told that they had received complaints from the workers on the day of the beating, but the local newspaper supervisor was preventing the news from being released.
“The web forums didn't let anyone post anything,” said Wong. “Every time you post something it gets deleted in less than 10 minutes, so you can see how much effort they are putting into this. A web forum administrator said he had orders to prevent this topic from appearing. Anything related to it is to be deleted at once.”
“Many government officials are being paid off by the factory owner,” Wong continued. “That's why they are covering this up. No one at the provincial level dares to interfere with this either. But even though they can censor the internet, they can't stop people from talking. This news is spreading fast through word of mouth. They can't cover this up completely.”