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Copyright 1999 Agence France Presse  
Agence France Presse

September 05, 1999 06:09 GMT

SECTION: International news

LENGTH: 357 words

HEADLINE: 200 teachers to protest graft at Sichuan school: rights group


   Around 200 teachers in the southwestern Chinese province of Sichuan have applied to stage a demonstration against corruption at a school in the town of Suining, an overseas rights group said Sunday.

"Two hundred teachers...will hold a demonstration in the centre of the city to protest the retaliation of government officials against teachers' efforts to stop the illegal overcharging of teachers and students," the US-based Free China Movement said in a statement.

It said the application had been submitted to the local police station in accordance with Chinese regulations and the teachers -- who hoped to demonstrate on September 12 -- were expecting an answer in five days.

The protest was in support of four teachers at the Baishizhen Middle School in Suining -- Ouyang Yi, Zhou Zhigang, Luo Bizheng and Luo Xiang -- who had been ordered to relocate to a remote mountain village.

The four had been active in complaining publicly about illegal charges levied by the school on the staff and students, FCM said.

But the school's principal, Jiang Guang, told AFP by telephone that the teachers had merely been offered the chance to pay a "life insurance fee".

"It was a voluntary fee for life insurance, which all the other teachers chose to pay except them," Jiang said.

When asked about the relocation of Ouyang -- a member of the banned opposition China Democracy Party -- and the others, Jiang said it was "necessary because of work requirements."

He said the announcement of the teachers' transfer had been made by a delegation of police officers, district education officials and Suining township officials who travelled specially to the school.

A duty officer at the Suining City Central District Public Security Bureau said he was unaware of the application to demonstrate.

Demonstrations are only considered legal in China if police permission is sought in advance and the names and addresses of the participants supplied.

Chinese people are increasingly complaining of excessive and arbitrary fees levied by schools which are making a basic education impossible to afford for some parents.



LOAD-DATE: September 05, 1999

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