(Clearwisdom.net) Below is the text of a letter from UAW President Ron Gettelfinger to President Bush urging him to advocate for the freedom of imprisoned trade unionists in China.

October 7, 2002

The Honorable George W. Bush
The White House
Washington, DC 20515

Dear President Bush:

On behalf of the 1.3 million active and retired members of the UAW, I strongly urge you to press the government of the People's Republic of China to stop violating the human and labor rights of its citizens. I am particularly concerned by China's crackdown on individuals and groups exercising the internationally recognized rights to freedom of association and freedom of expression.

China has jailed more trade unionists than any other country in the world. Many of them have received long prison sentences for doing nothing more than publishing a workers' newsletter or seeking the back pay owed them by their employers.

I urge you to press President Jiang Zemin during his visit here on behalf of all those workers who are languishing in Chinese prisons--their only "crime": fighting for internationally recognized labor rights.

China's systematic repression of fundamental rights and freedoms does not stop at the factory door. Human rights and social activists, as well as religious practitioners such as the Falun Gong, have suffered from arrests and imprisonment. Some of those prisoners, who often have been denied trials, are forced to work in slave labor camps producing goods that, in some instances, are exported to the United States.

As American workers struggle to defend their jobs and living standards in the global economy, China's heavy reliance on this prison labor not only strips Chinese citizens of basic freedoms, but also creates horribly unfair international competition that undermines the livelihoods of American families.

The UAW strongly urges you to insist that China end its repression of trade unionists, close its prison labor camps and respect the fundamental rights of its citizens.


Ron Gettelfinger