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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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26 July 2019

Human rights group urges China to release detained labour rights advocates

Author: China Human Rights Defenders (US)

“China Must Release Detained Labor Rights Advocates”, 25 July 2019

The Chinese government has continued to persecute labor organizers and labor rights activists one year after suppressing a labor strike in the southern city of Shenzhen. Since authorities first began detaining protesting workers at the Jasic Technology factory and their supporters on July 27, 2018, the government has ramped up its anti-labor campaign by detaining and harassing labor rights advocates, including factory workers, activists, researchers, NGO workers, social workers, and media editors beyond the Shenzhen Jasic strike. In a clear demonstration of the Chinese government’s continuous failure to protect socio-economic rights, including workers’ rights to fair wages, safe working conditions, or independent trade unions, authorities have targeted labor organizers and those who have spoken up in support of workers in order to punish and silence them.

As China’s development “model” continues to deepen socio-economic inequalities and ferment social discontent, there have been numerous workers’ strikes and protests for environmental and other social safety-net protection in many Chinese cities…

CHRD urges the Chinese government to release the detained labor rights activists. These detentions are arbitrary because authorities detained these individuals in retaliation for their peaceful exercise of the rights to peaceful assembly, free expression and free association through organizing an independent labor union. Enforced disappearances violate Chinese criminal code and international human rights standard. The detainees have been denied their rights to a fair trial and legal counsel. Those forced into disappearance are at risk of being subjected to torture…

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28 March 2019

China: Reporters Without Borders calls for release of three journalists investigating workers conditions

Author: Reporters Without Borders

"China: RSF calls for release of three journalists investigating workers conditions", 27 Mar 2019

RSF denounces the arrest in Guangzhou of three journalists as part of a crackdown on a workers protest movement and demands their immediate release. Yang Zhengjun, the editor-in-chief of labour rights news outlet iLabour.net, was arrested in Guangzhou last January. On March 20, two other editors from the same outlet, Wei Zhili, and Ke Chengbing, were also detained by the police. According to their relatives, the three journalists were arrested because they denounced life threatening working conditions in some Chinese factories.

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) calls on the Chinese authorities for the immediate release of the three journalists. “There are absolutely no grounds for their detention, said Cédric Alviani, the head of the Reporters Without Borders (RSF) East Asia bureau, who insisted that “investigating factory safety is not a crime, but on the contrary an important contribution for the Chinese public’s access to information.”

The three journalists are the latest victims in a long line of detainments and “disappearances” that have occurred since the beginning of the workers protest at Jasic Technology in July 2018. At least 44 workers and rights defenders are believed to be detained in relation to this case…

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20 March 2019

China: Labour activist Wei Zhili detained by police, wife says

Author: Eva Xiao, AFP

…Wei Zhili, 30, an editor at a Chinese labour rights media site, was apprehended…by police in Guangzhou, southern Guangdong province, for “disturbing public order”, his wife and prominent feminist Zheng Churan told AFP…“I am very afraid that the police will use abusive methods to force him to admit that he did something wrong.” Her husband’s colleague, Ke Chengbing, is also feared to be under police custody, as he has been unreachable for nearly 24 hours, according to rights groups.

Citing Wei’s parents, who were present when her husband was detained, Zheng said police told them their son had been “brainwashed” into helping workers and that they were taking him away to “educate” him, without specifying where…Police in Shenzhen and Guangzhou did not immediately respond to AFP’s request for comment…

According to Zheng, her husband had also been in touch with workers from central Hunan province, specifically those suffering from pneumoconiosis, a type of lung disease they contracted while working in Shenzhen due to unsafe working conditions…

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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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