Fifth & sixth labor activists Peng Jiayong & Meng Hen confirmed to be under criminal detention, one still missing; families and friends still being harassed and interrogated; mainland workers and activists initiate their own petition and other low-key solidarity actions; call for global solidarity actions on Monday, December 21
Update December 16: Meng Han has been confirmed to be under criminal detention, bringing the total of confirmed prisoners to six. One activist, Tang Jian, is still missing. Supporters call for global solidarity actions on Monday, December 21.
Compiled from daily updates on Red Balloon's Facebook page.
This wave of repression began on December 3 with police raids of four worker-support organizations, when over 20 workers and activists disappeared or were taken into police custody. For updates and solidarity actions, follow the Facebook page 'Free Chinese labour activists now 馬上釋放中國勞權人士'. Please sign the petition here (now in multiple languages). For background and more information in English, see other translations and writings being compiled on Libcom under the tag 'Solidarity with Chinese Workers.'
Update as of the 16th December 2015 on the Chinese detained labour NGO activists
Detention of Meng Han confirmed. Global Solidarity on Monday, December 21
On December 6, family members of Meng Han successfully made deposit for him in the First Detention Centre of Guangzhou City. This indirectly proved his detention. Up till now, six labour activists have been confirmed detained.
Meng Han, from an interview in China Labour Bulletin, August 2015
On December 16, a supporting group published a detailed summary to the suppression and harassment to labour activists and their families. Up to 14th December, 2015, three had been detained ; two were put behind bars in the First Detention Centre of Guangzhou City, whose charges were yet to be confirmed; five had been taken by the police for interrogation but were subsequently released; whereabouts of two were uncertain; one dormitory for worker-volunteers was searched and one’s home was inspected for hygiene conditions. (Note: The above information was collated before Meng Han's detention was confirmed today.)
Solidarity groups in Hong Kong called for joint global actions on December 21, inviting trade unions, labour organizations and labour and human rights activists to protest in front of the local Liaison Office or Chinese Embassy or to demonstrate in landmarks.
Up till December 16, more than 100 groups and 2,000 people signed a statement issued by the Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions and other labour organizations. A petition to the Chinese President Xi Jinping launched by a group of International Labour and Chinese Studies scholars on December 14 has also gained more than 120 signatories.
Update as of the 14th December 2015 on the Chinese detained labour NGO activists
Zhu Xiaomei bail request refused. Lawyer’s request to meet He Xiaobo denied
It has been the 12th day since the large-scale arrests of Labor NGO activists in Guangdong. The money deposited earlier in the detainees’ accounts at the First Detention Center of Guangzhou by the families of DENG Xiaoming and PENG Jiayong had indirectly confirmed the place of their detention. Yet, the ‘charges’ remains unexplained. Including HE Xiaobo, ZENG Feiyang and ZHU Xiaomei, there are now five activists being detained; while MENG Han, TANG Jian are still missing.
Because of the need to breastfeed her youngest daughter, ZHU Xiaomei ‘s family tried to request a bail for her, yet rejected by the Detention Centre on the ground that she may “forge, alter or destroy the evidence”.
Besides, the lawyer of HE Xiaobo requested to meet him at the Nanhai Detention Center, but the request was rejected because ‘the Domestic Security officer forbids any visits to HE.’
A series of suppression and defamation of the Labour NGO members have triggered widespread criticism against the state, saying that such acts have suppressed workers’ struggle. However, articles criticizing the government are soon to be removed by the authority. A petition initiated by ZHANG Zhiru has been repeatedly removed from the blog, but he persistently opens new blogs to invite for signatures. To date, at least 400 people join this petition. In addition, the online petition campaign launched by the Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions and other labor groups in Hong Kong has thus far received almost 1000 signatures.
Update as of the 13th December 2015 on the Chinese detained labour NGO activists
Families of detainees under threat from police. Scholars worldwide petitioning for their release
In the past few days, the police has summoned some workers and the friends of the detained labor activists to warn them not to make further contact with the detainees’ relatives or anybody that concerned this issue. This shows that the government has resorted to intimidating means to isolate the detainees’ relatives, who are in need of support. Thus far dozens of people have been summoned.
Yesterday afternoon more than ten policemen suddenly ransacked Panyu Worker Service Centre’s dormitory for volunteers. They asked the landlord to stop leasing the apartment to the tenants.
The scholars’ global petition will begin tomorrow. The initiators hope that there will be hundreds of scholars signing the petition so that the demand of releasing the labor activists could be made clear to the Chinese government.
Update as of 12 December 2015 on the detained Chinese labour NGO activists
Support to activists continues despite political restraint. More workers within China signed the petition
Today is Saturday and a rest day for the detention center. In a tense atmosphere of suppression and surveillance, the netizens and supporters to the labor activists have resorted to creative means to express their discontent towards the government's suppression against the labour NGO activists.
Zhang Zhiru, a labor activist based in Shenzhen, has initiated an open petition, which has been posted online. He has persistently signed up for new blog accounts whenever the old ones are closed down by the government. Until this evening, 309 people, mostly workers nationwide, have co-signed the petition.
Some people have posted photos of themselves with handwritten slogans in support of the detained activists. 70 members of the Guangzhou Youth Volunteer Association have signed a petition with their membership numbers to support the detainees.
The online messages and articles supporting the detainees would be quickly blocked by the government. But some online articles criticizing the government-controlled labour unions have started to emerge. For example, with reference to the speech made by Xi Jinping, they criticize the unions for the trend of bureaucratization, rigid institutionalization, focusing solely on entertainment, and having turned themselves into aristocracy.
Update as of the 11th December 2015 on the Chinese detained labour NGO activists
Peng Jiayong’s Detention Confirmed. Police Harassment Continues
Today, the lawyer of Peng Jiayong tried to make a deposit (for his expenses) on Peng's behalf at the First Detention Center in Guangzhou Baiyun. The transaction was successful, which indirectly confirmed his detention status.
Peng Jiayong in April 2015 after being beaten by police during a strike in Zhongshan. Photo: RFA.
To date, including Peng five NGO activists have been confirmed to be under criminal detention (others include He Xiaobo, Zeng Feiyang, Zhu Xiaomei and Deng Xiaoming). Meng Han and Tang Jian are still missing.
The police investigation has become more intense; a number of activists were put to interrogation today. It is believed that the police now retain a list showing those who have close ties with the arrested activists. The police have subjected these people to inquisitions in the past few days.
The police has continued to harass the activists’ families and taken pictures of their children without their consent and valid reasons. The family members of the detainees are angry and feel helpless.
Update as of the 10th December 2015 on the Chinese detained labour NGO activists
Police harassment increases. Supporting Action spreads
It has been the 7th day since the Chinese labour activists were detained and missed. MENG Han (the previous staff of Panyu Worker Service Centre ) and Beiguo (former staff of Panyu Worker Service Centre ) are yet to be located. Today, workers who received help from Panyu Worker Service Centre before said they have been told and requested not to join any rescue Chinese labour activist attempt and not to make contact with outside. Recently, some policemen also went to the school in which Zhen Feiyang’s son is studying and took photo of him without any reason.
Yesterday, Zhang Zhiru, Shenzhen labour right activist issued a joint petition. At least 141 mainlanders join the petition against the crackdown. It shows that people still dare to express their opinion even under the government oppression. Unfortunately, the petition website was blocked again.
Several Hong Kong labour organizations launched joint-protest today morning. Over 100 people protested to demand the release of the detained labour activists.
A group of Chinese and labour studies scholars decided to initiate global signature campaign, demanding the Chinese government not to abuse the state authority and release the detainees immediately.
Update as of the 9th December 2015 on the Chinese detained labour NGO activists
Joint Petition from the labour activists, intensifying suppression
The labour activists have been detained for six days already. Still, they are denied access to lawyers. In the morning of the 9th December, lawyers representing DENG Xiao ming and ZHANG Feiyang requested to meet their clients in the First Detention Centre of Guangzhou City. However, once again, this fundamental demand was refused by the officers as the activists were alleged to be involved in the crime of “endangering national security”. The lawyers complained to the prosecutor immediately, as what have been written down in the notice of detention is "disrupting social order" instead of “endangering national security”.
ZHU Xiaomei was arrested and taken away in the witness of her nearly one-year-old daughter. Two days after the arrest, ZHU’s husband took their daughter to the detention centre for breast-feeding. Unfortunately, their daughter cried and refused to be breastfed after several attempts. Later on, the police no longer allowed ZHU’s husband to bring their daughter to the detention centre for breast-feeding. Their daughter kept crying these few nights. ZHU’s husband restated his request. However, the police said that they need to seek for the approval of higher official.
Information concerning the suppression of labor activists has limited lifespan on the internet owing to state censorship. Several Weibo (a Chinese social media) and WeChat (a Chinese messaging app) accounts have been blocked. HE Xiaobo’s wife often expressed her feelings on her husband's detention on the internet. Two police officers went to her home and warned her not to do so, or else “there will be serious consequence.” Currently, her account cannot be viewed on the internet.
Some workers who have sought help from the labour NGO Panyu Migrant Workers Center said that they were interrogated by unknown personnel.
A labour activist in Shenzhen, Zhang zhi-ru posted a petition “A submission to the CCP Central Committee, State Council and the National People's Congress" in his personal blog, which calls for signatories to support the detained activists. Again, this post is blocked after a few hours.
In Hong Kong, more than thirty labor groups and trade unions have issued a joint statement, calling the public to sign the statement to support the detained activists. Tomorrow they will stage a protest at the Liaison Office of the Central People's Government demanding the release of the labor activists.