Rammed labour protesters maimed

PUBLISHED : Friday, 07 June, 2002, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 07 June, 2002, 12:00am

Six laid-off workers in Shanxi province were seriously injured after being rammed by a Jeep during a demonstration by more than 2,000 protesters two weeks ago, a human rights group said yesterday.

Four of the six protesters were so badly injured that doctors had to amputate all their limbs, the Hong Kong-based Information Centre for Human Rights and Democracy said.

It said 2,200 laid-off workers of a state-run coal mining firm in Datong, Shanxi - one of China's largest coal-producing regions - marched to company headquarters on May 20 to protest against the massive lay-offs.

The Datong Coal Mine Corp, a former branch of the Datong Government Coal Mine Bureau, fired the workers last month.

The workers said they had been offered a redundancy pay of 50 yuan (HK$47) a month but this was not enough for them to live on. They said they had petitioned the city Government and threatened to take their case to Beijing.

Both the company and workers agreed to meet on May 20, but the negotiations broke down after workers accused the firm of taking a hardline approach.

This sparked a new round of protests, with workers blocking a road connecting the coal mine to Datong's urban area.

At about 10.30am, a Jeep rammed into the protesters, badly injuring four men and two women. Two lost an arm each while four lost all their limbs, the centre said.

The driver, who was not identified, was detained, the centre said. Authorities are investigating the incident while the workers are planning further demonstrations.

Laid-off workers have been protesting in areas across China this year, demanding better severance pay or expressing outrage over what they say is corruption by company officials.

In March and April, tens of thousands of laid-off oilfield and factory workers demonstrated in the northeastern cities of Daqing and Liaoyang.