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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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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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Article
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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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Author: 傅才德, 紐約時報

“中國3名工人維權運動領袖獲緩刑”, 2016年9月26日

…中國南方一家法院判處三位知名勞動組織者有期徒刑、緩期執行。這三人已被關押了九個多月…律師賴勝琪(音)在電話中表示,這幾名活動人士居住在中國南方的廣東省,如果有更多的罪名被判成立的話,他們仍有可能會服刑。

賴律師的當事人曾飛洋面臨的指控是“聚眾擾亂社會秩序”,他被判處有期徒刑三年,緩刑四年。國際特赦組織在香港的中國問題研究員倪偉平(William Nee)說,另外兩名組織者湯歡興和朱小梅分別被判有期徒刑一年半,緩刑兩年。

…這三名活動人士、以及至少另外一名仍然在押的人都曾展現出非常強的能力,能為贏得更高的工資和更好的工作條件把工人組織起來。隨著中國經濟的蓬勃發展和勞動力短缺的加重,容忍他們的活動已好幾年了的政府,似乎對這類活動開始採取更嚴厲的做法

朱小梅之前的律師龐琨(音)在緩刑判決宣布之後表示,他鬆了一口氣,因為這意味著,這些活動人士不會馬上進監獄服刑。但是,他說這些判決是“不可接受的”,因為朱小梅做的事情——組織和幫助工人——“不是犯罪”…“很明顯,當局想讓他們依靠政府和製度來處理類似的勞動糾紛,”龐琨說。

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Article
3 March 2016

Labour activist Zhu Xiaomei released after two months in detention

Author: China Labour Bulletin

Two months after a dozen police broke into her apartment and dragged her away in front of her one-year-old daughter and teenage son, labour activist Zhu Xiaomei returned home on the evening of 1 February…

Zhu had been working at the Panyu Centre since 2014, after she was fired by her former employer Hitachi Metals in Guangzhou for organizing workers and lobbying for the establishment of a trade union at the factory. Since joining the Panyu Centre, Zhu has been involved in several collective bargaining cases such as the Guangzhou University Town sanitation workers dispute and Lide shoe factory dispute. In both these cases, the workers successfully negotiated with management and obtained nearly everything they were asking for…

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Article
1 March 2016

China Labor Watch Statement on arrest of four labor activists

Author: China Labor Watch

"CLW Statement on Arrest of Four Labor Activists", 9 Jan 2016

After detaining seven labor activists for more than a month, on January 8 the Chinese government formally arrested four of the activists…The activists were arrested in part for providing assistance to striking workers at the Lide Shoe Factory in 2014-15. The fundamental reason that workers at Lide went on strike is because the company failed to pay legally entitled benefits to workers for many years, accumulating massive arrears. Workers organized to negotiate and strike for backpay when the company prepared to relocate…

Based on recent interviews conducted by CLW with Lide workers, Lide manufacturers products for Calvin Klein (owned by PVH), Jimlar (owned by Li & Fung), Wolverine, and Stride Rite (owned by Wolverine). CLW sent letters to each of these companies on January 6, 2016, calling on them to communicate with Lide and the local government to secure the release of the detained labor activists…

[Business & Human Rights invited PVH/Calvin Klein, Li & Fung and Wolverine to respond.

PVH/Calvin Klein provided its response

Li & Fung and Wolverine have not yet responsed]

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Company non-response
1 March 2016

Li & Fung did not respond

Company response
1 March 2016

PVH/Calvin Klein response to China Labor Watch Statement on arrest of labor activists in China

Author: PVH

Global Brands Group, in its capacity as a PVH licensee, sources footwear from the Lide factory. All PVH licensees are required to adhere to our Code of Conduct, “A Shared Commitment,” which includes the right to freedom of association and collective bargaining.  To this point, PVH worked with all parties to encourage and ultimately conclude the mutually beneficial resolution of the labor dispute at Lide in 2014. 

China Labor Watch brought the recent detention of activists that were involved in the Lide work to our attention in January 2016.  While we have not received evidence of any connection between the current detention of activists and the 2014 labor dispute at Lide, PVH takes any instance of unfair detention related to human rights advocacy very seriously. Given the scale and seriousness of these issues, PVH believes working through multi-stakeholder organizations and government to be our best chance of positively influencing this troubling situation.  To this end, PVH has spoken to an industry association, a multi-stakeholder forum, and civil society actors, including AFL-CIO and Maquila Solidarity Network, in an effort to mobilize industry action to address the above noted detention. 

Company non-response
1 March 2016

Wolverine did not respond

Article
6 February 2016

China: Labour group sues state media for defamation against detained activists

Author: Nathan VanderKlippe, Globe & Mail

"Activist group challenges China’s state media with defamation suit", 25 Jan 2016

China’s state media has played a central role in a nationwide crackdown on dissidents…On Dec. 22, Xinhua published a lengthy article that…portrayed the activists as moral delinquents whose work undermined state security. Zeng Feiyang, the most high-profile of those detained, had “at least eight long-term lovers” …Xinhua said. The real motive for Mr. Zeng, Mr. He and the other activists was “to incite workers to strike, create a social impact, interfere with factories’ normal production and disturb social order,” Xinhua reported…

Mr. Zeng and two others were later formally arrested for “gathering a crowd to disrupt public order.” Two were released on bail; the status of another remains unknown. Mr. He was charged with embezzlement. He began to fight for the rights of injured workers after losing three fingers in an industrial accident in 2006. Nanfeiyan [Mr. He's organisation] says it has helped nearly 10,000 injured workers obtain compensation.

...[T]he organization said it was submitting its defamation suit to “defend our own reputation” even as it continues to “defend the rights of workers who suffer injuries.”…

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