Yao Fuxin, 57, was involved in organizing workers in Liaoning to address corruption and other issues facing the local factories. A former employee at the Liaoyang Steel Rolling Factory, he is married with one daughter. In late March 2002, Yao Fuxin was secretly detained and formally charged with “gathering a crowd to disturb social order” after leading tens of thousands of workers from Liaoyang factories in a peaceful demonstration protesting against corruption and demanding the payment of back wages and pensions. He was later charged with the far more serious charge of subversion due to alleged involvement in the banned China Democracy Party.
During his trial, Yao insisted on his innocence, saying he believed in the government and wanted to see the plight of the workers resolved. He was sentenced to seven years, which he is now serving at Lingyuan No. 2 Prison in Liaoning. His family fought for a retrial with the assistance of his defense lawyer Mo Shaoping, but it was announced at a secret hearing on June 27, 2003, that the appeal was rejected and the original sentence upheld. Since his imprisonment, Yao has been plagued by serious health problems. Family members, who visit him regularly, say he is in very poor health. Yao’s family and Liaoyang workers have repeatedly appealed to authorities as high as the National People’s Congress and the Supreme People’s Court to release Yao on medical parole, but without success.