AMRC statement against the Jilin fire, China

For immediate release-

Asia Monitor Resource Centre is appalled at the death of the Chinese workers in the poultry farm of Jilin, China. By now more than 122 workers have died and many more injured. This is by now the worst industrial fire in China with death toll surpassing the Zhili fire in Shenzen that killed 88 young workers almost two decades ago. It is ironic when we are observing the 20th anniversary year of Zhili fire and thought the locked fire exits were a thing of the past in China - reality evades all logic. Doors continue to be locked making workplaces death traps. It seems there are no lessons learnt from the past and workers continue to be treated with no dignity. With the recent happenings in Pakistan and Bangladesh, many have expressed China that evolved at least in terms of fire safety, yet the Jilin fire shows problems in enforcement. At this moment AMRC expresses its solidarity with the victims and their families and urges the government to provide immediate relief and justice to the injured and dead workers and their families.

AMRC also expresses deep outrage at the colossal loss of life, which is now unprecedented by any scale. Providing safe fire passage is well known for more than a century since the ‘Triangle Fire’ of New York in 1911 and if it is not provided or remains blocked - any deaths henceforth should amount to ‘murder’ and not just an accident. Fire and structural safety of the buildings is the basic right that workers in Asia rightfully deserve and locking exits should be zero tolerance according to international labour practice. The tragedy in Jilin also reflects the gross problems of enforcement of the existing laws in China, which should have prevented this tragedy.

We hereby demand the following:

  1. Immediate relief to the victims and their families and treatment for the injured workers.
  2. An independent and thorough investigation for the cause of the fire.
  3. Holding the employer criminally liable for ‘wilful murder’ and public officials for their wilful negligence if found.

                                    - Asia Monitor Resource Centre

                                     June 4, 2013.