China: About 50 labour activists detained by authorities, 7 criminally detained among which 5 were charged & sentenced

"After detaining seven labor activists for more than a month, on January 8 the Chinese government formally arrested four of the activists. Their names are Zeng Feiyang, Zhu Xiaomei, and Meng Han (all of the Panyu Workers Center), and He Xiaobo (of the Nanfeiyan Social Worker Center). Zeng, Zhu, and Meng have been arrested for “gathering crowds to disturb public order”, while He was arrested on the grounds of “embezzlement”. The activists have continually been denied their right to meet their lawyers..."

"[M]ore than nine months after they were arrested amid a crackdown on civic organizations...Zeng Feiyang...was charged with “gathering a crowd to disturb social order” and sentenced to three years with a four-year suspension. The two other organizers, Tang Jian and Zhu Xiaomei, were sentenced to one and a half years in prison with two-year suspensions..."

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Article
13 August 2017

China: Court sentences labour activist Lu Yuyu to 4 years in prison after documentation of labour unrest

Author: Chun Han Wong, Te-Ping Chen, Wall Street Journal (USA)

"China Sentences Activist to Prison for 'Picking Quarrels'", 3 Aug 2017

A Chinese court handed a four-year prison term to an activist known for documenting social unrest in China, in a case that has underscored Beijing’s harsh approach to managing labor tensions. Former migrant worker Lu Yuyu was sentenced...after being convicted of “picking quarrels and provoking trouble,”...“Picking quarrels” is a vague legal term that authorities have used to prosecute dozens of activists and political dissidents, who have increasingly been the target of suppression...

A former migrant worker, Mr. Lu had worked with his girlfriend to collect information about public protests and worker strikes that he then tallied on social media. Authorities detained the couple in June 2016, closing a rare window on social unrest and labor tensions in China...

He published his findings on a blog that labor activists later relied on as a database on worker protests, which in recent years have climbed as China’s economy has slowed...

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Article
10 July 2017

China: Labour activist Liu Shaoming sentenced to 4.5 years for his activism

Author: China Labour Bulletin

"Veteran labour activist Liu Shaoming sentenced to four and a half years for his activism", 7 Jul 2017

…[L]abour activist Liu Shaoming was sentenced to four years and a half imprisonment under the charge of “inciting subversion of state power.”

…Liu Shaoming is a…former member of the Beijing Workers’ Autonomous Federation (WAF), China’s first independent trade union; and the founder of Volunteers for Workers’ Rights…In recent years, Liu was one of the key activists in the Pearl River Delta labour NGO network. He helped organise workers in the Yue Yuen strike in Dongguan, the Guangzhou University Town sanitation strike, and the Panyu Xinsheng shoe factory strike…

Many of Liu’s colleagues were subsequently arrested in a large scale crackdown on labour activists and NGO workers in December of 2015. His colleagues included Zeng Feiyang, Zhu Xiaomei and Meng Han, who were all sentenced in 2016 for their organizing efforts.

…On July 5, 2017, the Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions issued a demand stressing on the urgent need to provide Liu with proper medical attention: "…reports indicate that Liu Shaoming has been suffering from abdominal pain since October 2016. Liu Shaoming needs proper medical attention now…" To this date, Liu Shaoming sustains his innocence.

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Article
10 July 2017

China: Labour activist says he was arrested due to investigation at factory producing for Ivanka Trump’s brand

Author: Benjamin Haas, Guardian (UK)

"Chinese labour activist says he was arrested due to factory's Trump links", 10 Jul 2017

Hua Haifeng spent weeks in detention after undercover investigation revealed abuse of workers at Ganzhou factory that makes shoes for Ivanka Trump’s brand…Hua Haifeng told the Guardian how he was interrogated in marathon sessions every other day for a month, during which police repeatedly asked him for details of his investigation…Hua and two other investigators, Li Zhao and Su Heng, found evidence of labour abuses at the factory manufacturing Ivanka Trump shoes, including below minimum wage pay, verbal abuse of workers and the use of derogatory language towards female employees. Li and Su were also released on bail on 28 June…

Calls to Huajian Group, the owner of the factory, have gone unanswered, but it has previously told Associated Press that all allegations of labour violations were “completely not true to the facts, taken out of context [and] exaggerated”... In June, Abigail Klem, president of the Ivanka Trump brand, told the Guardian in a statement: “Ivanka Trump HQ is committed to only working with licensees who maintain internationally recognised labor standards across their supply chains.” …Ivanka Trump herself, who has not commented on Hua’s case...Ganzhou public security bureau hung up when contacted by the Guardian.

Hua was released on bail on 28 June, but still faces charges of illegally using surveillance equipment…Hua has undertaken undercover investigations at dozens of other factories in recent years; this was his first arrest. The former factory worker has been advocating for better labour conditions since 2003 …

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Article
12 March 2017

‘We the Workers’: New film depicts crackdown on China’s labour advocates

Author: AFP

"‘We the Workers’: New film depicts crackdown on China’s labour advocates", 22 Feb 2017

…The 174-minute film serves as a record of the waning months for unofficial labour organisations, run mostly by current and former workers, whose lobbying for better pay and treatment in southern China unnerved authorities…Much of the film takes place in 2015 in Panyu, a district of the provincial capital Guangzhou, as labourers stepped up demands, triggering pushback from factories and authorities. “The activists were just educating other workers about their legal rights. I thought it was safe because everything revolved around actual labour laws,” [film-maker] Wen told…

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Article
21 February 2017

China: Network of Chinese Human Rights Defenders highlights arrests & other threats to human rights defenders in new report

Author: Chinese Human Rights Defenders

"CHRD Releases “They Target My Human Rights Work as a Crime”: Annual Report on the Situation of Human Rights Defenders in China (2016)", 16 Feb 2017

...Promoting and protecting human rights remained a high-risk activity in 2016, says CHRD in its annual report...on the situation of human rights defenders in China...The Chinese government intensified crackdowns on human rights defenders (HRDs) and criminalized rights activities as “political” threats to “national security.”...The Chinese government punished them with arbitrary detention, imprisonment, enforced disappearance, and torture. In addition, their families faced collective punishment. Police systematically deprived detained HRDs of due process rights, such as the right to a fair trial and access to independent legal counsel. Authorities also rolled out a series of draconian laws and regulations that give police even more power to criminalize human rights activities...

(b) Quelling Protests: From Brute Force to Communication Blockades... For many years, the number of protests in China — over pollution, labor disputes, land grabs, forced demolitions, and other issues — have been estimated to be in the tens of thousands...146 Authorities used force in response to demonstrations, beating and detaining participants...For instance, over one thousand police in Xi’an crushed a rally by residents opposing a proposed waste incinerator plant in October...

For China to live up to its public pledges to protect human rights and to uphold the Chinese Constitution, the...government must immediately stop criminalizing the activities of human rights defenders, including lawyers. Furthermore, CHRD calls on the government to..repeal draconian stipulations in national legislation that abridge the rights to freedom of expression, peaceful assembly, and association; and allow national and international NGOs to play a full and active role in promoting and protecting human rights in China.

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Article
20 November 2016

ILO urges China to allow previously arrested labour activists to continue their work

Author: China Labour Bulletin

"UN body urges China to allow labour activists to continue their job", 14 Nov 2016

An International Labour Organisation (ILO) Committee has requested the Chinese government to ensure previously arrested and sentenced labour activists in Guangdong “can continue to provide advisory services to workers without hindrance”. The request was made in an interim report released by the ILO’s Committee on Freedom of Association (CFA) on 9 November 2016.…

The ILO Committee further requested that the Chinese government provide court judgements of the three activists. Their colleague Meng Han was sentenced to 21 months in prison earlier this month for the same offence. The interim report states that it expects the pending investigation of two more labour activists, Deng Xiaoming and Peng Jiayong, to be closed without delay, and requests the Chinese government to clarify whether Chen Huihai has also been charged with “gathering a crowd to disturb public order”.

This ILO interim report relates to a complaint filed by the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) against the Chinese government on 15 February 2016 following the detention of over 50 labour activists in a coordinated police action in Guangdong province during the first week of December 2015. Seven were criminally detained, and four were later charged and sentenced …

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Article
3 November 2016

China: Labour activist Meng Han sentenced to 1 year, 9 months

Author: China Labour Bulletin

"Guangdong labour activist Meng Han sentenced to 1 year, 9 months", 3 Nov 2016

Labour activist Meng Han was sentenced to a prison term of one year and nine months on Thursday by a Chinese court for “gathering crowds to disrupt public order,” according to his defense lawyer. Meng pleaded guilty and said he would not appeal.

Meng, who was officially detained on January 8, worked at the Panyu Workers’ Centre in Guangdong. During his detention, Meng had limited access to legal representation and the length of his detention exceeded the legally allowable time limit by almost two months, according to… China Labour Bulletin (CLB), who said he was detained amid “blatant procedural violations.”

Meng was detained as part of a broader crackdown on Guangdong labour NGOs in December. Before the crackdown, the Panyu Workers’ Centre organised workers in several high-profile collective bargaining cases…Han Dongfang, the director of the CLB group, which worked with the Panyu Centre for five years, said “even if he pleads guilty, I won’t believe he does so out of his own will.”

Meng’s parents faced intimidation throughout his detention, according to CLB, including one instance where they were forced to move after unidentified thugs attacked their apartment door with an axe…

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Article
30 October 2016

Chinese activist faces life in jail for supporting shoe workers: Calvin Klein, Coach and Ralph Lauren urged to call for Meng Han’s release

Author: Labour Behind the Label

On Thursday 3 and Friday 4 November, the Chinese labour activist Meng Han will be tried by Panyu district court in southern China. He has been targeted by the Chinese authorities after he educated workers about their rights, in a factory making shoes for Calvin Klein, Coach and Ralph Lauren. He is charged with “gathering a crowd to disturb social order”, which carries a maximum possible sentence of life imprisonment.

Meng Han was arrested on 3 December 2015, when Chinese police carried out a series of surprise raids on the homes and offices of around 50 staff members and volunteers working for labour rights groups in Guangdong, China…

Because they were sourcing shoes from the factory, Calvin Klein, Coach and Ralph Lauren have been asked by workers’ rights groups to make statements to the Chinese authorities to call for Meng Han’s release…

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Article
28 September 2016

China: 3 labour activists get suspended prison terms

Author: Michael Forsythe, New York Times

"3 Labor Activists in China Get Suspended Prison Terms", 26 Sep 2016

A court in southern China has sentenced three prominent labor organizers to suspended prison terms… more than nine months after they were arrested amid a crackdown on civic organizations...The activists…could still be imprisoned if found guilty of any further offenses, the lawyer, Lai Shengqi, said by telephone.

…Zeng Feiyang [a labour activist], was charged with “gathering a crowd to disturb social order” and sentenced to three years with a four-year suspension. The two other organizers, Tang Jian and Zhu Xiaomei, were sentenced to one and a half years in prison with two-year suspensions, said William Nee, a China researcher in Hong Kong for Amnesty International.

…While their activities had been generally tolerated for many years, as the Chinese economy boomed and labor shortages grew, the government appears to be taking a harsher line…Pang Kun, a former lawyer for Ms. Zhu, expressed some relief after the suspended sentences were announced…But, he said, the sentences were “unacceptable” because what Ms. Zhu did — organize and help workers — “was not a crime.” The suspended sentences will also mean that the activists will find it difficult to continue their work…

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Author: 傅才德, 纽约时报

“中国3名工人维权运动领袖获缓刑”, 2016年9月26日

…中国南方一家法院判处三位知名劳动组织者有期徒刑、缓期执行。这三人已被关押了九个多月…律师赖胜琪(音)在电话中表示,这几名活动人士居住在中国南方的广东省,如果有更多的罪名被判成立的话,他们仍有可能会服刑。

赖律师的当事人曾飞洋面临的指控是“聚众扰乱社会秩序”,他被判处有期徒刑三年,缓刑四年。国际特赦组织在香港的中国问题研究员倪伟平(William Nee)说,另外两名组织者汤欢兴和朱小梅分别被判有期徒刑一年半,缓刑两年。

…这三名活动人士、以及至少另外一名仍然在押的人都曾展现出非常强的能力,能为赢得更高的工资和更好的工作条件把工人组织起来。随着中国经济的蓬勃发展和劳动力短缺的加重,容忍他们的活动已好几年了的政府,似乎对这类活动开始采取更严厉的做法

朱小梅之前的律师庞琨(音)在缓刑判决宣布之后表示,他松了一口气,因为这意味着,这些活动人士不会马上进监狱服刑。但是,他说这些判决是“不可接受的”,因为朱小梅做的事情——组织和帮助工人——“不是犯罪”…“很明显,当局想让他们依靠政府和制度来处理类似的劳动纠纷,”庞琨说。

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