Female Worker On Strike Dies of Tear Gas Bomb

By Li Jianjun, Radio Free Asia
March 13, 2008 12:00 am Last Updated: March 13, 2008 12:00 am

Radio Free Asia's Cantonese news service made an exclusive report on March 10, 2008 that Chinese regime's Public Security Bureau (PSB) of Boluo County, Guangdong Province forcibly suppressed a strike by 1,000 workers of a Taiwan-funded wood products factory. One of the workers confirmed on March 13 that a female worker had been hit by a tear gas bomb fired by the local PSB and eventually died on the evening of March 12. After hearing the news of the death, the workers, who had already resumed work, launched another strike. The issue still hadn't been solved when this article was released.

A worker of Lisen Wood Products Company in Boluo County, Huizhou City told the reporter on March 13 that PSB fired several tear gas bombs in order to stop hundreds of Lisen workers from going to Guangzhou to appeal on the afternoon of Monday, March 10. A female worker was injured on Tuesday night and didn't survive. After learning of the death, the workers who had already resumed work, for fear of being arrested if they did not, launched another strike halted the operation of the entire plant. One worker said, “This is because a worker died. We only learned the news last night. We cannot continue to work under this situation. So now nobody goes to work and all the operations in the factory have come to a halt.”

Funeral Service Delayed While Deceased Worker's Body Not Yet Located

Another worker added that the whereabouts of the dead worker's body remained unknown. The worker said, “The deceased woman was about 30 years old. She came from Hunan province. The Hunan PSB has sent officers over to the Boluo PSB to get the body, but they have not gotten it yet.”

The worker said that the Boluo PSB arrested 14 workers, including five leaders, on March 10. They have been detained in the Boluo PSB and no one is able to contact them. He criticized the media blackout enforced by the local authorities, and called on overseas media to fill in the gap.

The RFA reporter tried to inquire of the local police station about the incident, but the telephone number was put through to a fax line. He also tried the Boluo PSB, an officer who answered the phone at the Boluo county PSB said: “We know nothing about this incident. I don't know who is responsible for this kind of issue. I can't answer you.” Lisen is a Taiwan-invested company with more than 1,000 employees. The reporter called Lisen several times, and couldn't get through either.

Its main products, wood blinds, are exported to other countries. Due to salary and labor contract disputes, its workers went out on strike on March 5, and the situation deteriorated to clashes with police on March 10.