Guangzhou labour activists arrested en masse

Guangzhou labour activists arrested en masse

December 3rd, one day before China’s Legal Governance Promotion Day, at least 21 activists were apprehended from their homes and offices. At least ten are still being held by the police.

Image of three detained activists. Photo: CLB.

By "Solidarity with Chinese Workers."

Update (December 10): A revised and updated version of this article was published on Labor Notes (December 9). For more updates and solidarity actions, follow the Facebook page "Free Chinese labour activists now 馬上釋放中國勞權人士".

For background see “The criminalization of strikes since 2012“ and related articles under the "Solidarity with Chinese Workers" tag on Libcom.

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December 3rd, one day before China's Legal Governance Promotion Day (法制宣传日), at least 21 activists were apprehended from their homes and offices. At least ten are still being held by the police. These include four leaders of labor NGOs: Zeng Feiyang 曾飞洋 of Guangzhou's Panyu Da Gong Zu Service Center (番禺打工族服务中心), He Xiaobo 何晓波 of Foshan's Nan Fei Yan Social Work Service Organization (南飞雁社 会工作服务中心), Chen Huihai 陈辉海 of Guangzhou's Brother Hai Labor Service Center (海哥劳工服务部) and Peng Jiayong 彭家勇 of the Panyu-based Laborer Mutual Aid Group (劳动者互助小组)--and six other people who work with these centers--Zhu Xiaomei 朱小梅, Tang Jian 汤建, Xin Minyan 辛敏妍, Chen Yingying 陈莹莹, Deng Xiaoming 邓小明, and Meng Han 孟晗.

Police broke into the offices and homes of the labor activists, searching and confiscating belongings under several different charges commonly used to harass social activists. He Xiaobo was arrested under charges of embezzlement, stopped by police as he left his house. Police then entered He's apartment and seized all of his electronics, along with his accounting records and materials from various trainings he had attended. Zeng, meanwhile, was arrested on the typical charges of "rallying the masses and disputing social order". Of the ten activists who remain in the custody of the police, only Chen Huihai can be contacted, though his location remains unknown; the other nine are currently unreachable. He Xiaobo's wife has tracked down information that he is currently in the hands of the Foshan Economic Crime Investigation Unit, a unit usually reserved for severe cases of corruption. Activists in China are regularly arrested under broad and ill-defined charges such as "disrupting public order", "disorderly behavior", and "illegal business operation." This is a flagrant attempt to eliminate these four organizations and their labor rights activism from the Pearl River Delta.

It is unclear how long police plan to hold the ten activists. Their arrest is the latest in a series of attacks on civil society activists that began this year with the March 7th arrest of the Feminist Five as they were planning an anti-sexual harassment action on public buses. The five were held for over a month in inhumane conditions, forced to sleep on cold floors and interrogated for hours on end. One activist was denied medicine for her chronic liver condition until she had to be sent to the Detention Center's medical facility. Incidents of repression this year have also included the June arrests of activists Guo Bin and Yang Zhanqing, who worked on rights for the disabled and consumer rights issues, respectively, and who had both previously worked for anti-healthcare discrimination organization Beijing Yirenping. This was followed by the arrest of over a hundred human rights lawyers in July.

Those arrested December 3rd have all at one time worked at the Panyu Da Gong Zu Service Center, a center which has been working to promote workers' rights since 2002. It is expected authorities will try to charge these four separate organizations as a single entity in order to strengthen charges against them. This is not the government's first move against these primarily Guangzhou based labor activists. Labor organizations Sunflower Service Center (向阳花) and Nan Fei Yan had their organizational registration retracted mid-year, and several organizations including Sunflower have been forced out by their landlords in a classic indirect attack to sweep organizations out of town. The government is also currently pursuing the passage of a Foreign NGO Management Law, which would strictly regulate the operation of foreign NGOs and the use of foreign funding in mainland China. While the law is still undergoing revisions and has not yet been passed, the crackdown on civil society organizations is closely linked with the attempt to eliminate all "external" influences from Chinese civil society.

The four organizations attacked December 4th have been a major force in defending workers and promoting labor rights awareness in the Pearl River Delta. As China's economy begins to show signs of decline and withheld wages and factory closures become increasingly common, the government appears to be steadily eliminating sources of independent support for workers' struggles. This is not only a crackdown on four organizations, but a pre-emptive crackdown on workers' labor rights.

We will continue to post with updates on the arrest situation in the following days.

For more information, and coverage in Chinese, see below:

"Labour activists detained for doing the job of the trade union" by CLB

"出门见人,回家扫地,扫掉一地劳工NGO" by 思乐书

"12月3日,广州、佛山多位劳工NGO机构主要工作人员被带走"

"公益人被抓,为何成为宪法日的注脚"

Comments

Nao
Dec 6 2015 16:13

Follow the page “Free Chinese labour activists now 馬上釋放中國勞權人士” for updates and solidarity actions:
https://www.facebook.com/freechineselabouractivists/

Nao
Dec 7 2015 14:49
Nao
Dec 7 2015 21:28
Steven.
Dec 7 2015 23:42

Thanks for the additional info, please keep us updated

Nao
Dec 8 2015 14:11

Deng Xiaoming’s criminal detention confirmed, number of people criminally detained in “12/3 incident” rises to four

https://parisolnet.wordpress.com/2015/12/08/deng-xiaoming-update/

Translated by “Solidarity with Chinese Workers” from “邓小明确认被刑拘,“12.3事件”刑拘人数上升至4人” by Workers Stick Together (劳工抱抱团)

I. Deng Xiaoming’s (鄧小明) criminal detention has been confirmed. The number of people criminally detained in “12/3 incident” has risen to four
Dec 7 2015, according to lawyers, it has been confirmed that Deng Xiaoming, staff member at Haige Labor Service Center (海哥劳工服务部) is under criminal detention. As of Dec 7, there are four Guangdong labor NGO activists criminally detained.
As we cannot confirm by what means or to what address police mailed the notice of criminal detention, as of today, Deng’s family has yet to receive the notice.

II. Chen Huihai (陈辉海) reports he has returned safely home
The afternoon of Dec 7, director of Haige Labor Service Center (originally the Guangdong Laowei Law Firm Worker Training Unit 广东劳维律师事务所工人培训部) Chen Huihai (陈辉海) announced he has returned safely home. He was held by the police for a total of 5 days.

III. Family and lawyer meetings

1. Zeng Feiyang (曾飞洋)
The morning of 7 Dec 2015, the Guangzhou No. 1 Detention Center rejected Zeng’s lawyer request to meet with him. The accompanying family members were only allowed to deposit money for Zeng. They were not allowed to bring Zeng any other things. Since Zeng is short-sighted, without his glasses he is severely inconvenienced inside the detention center.

2. He Xiaobo (何晓波)
The morning of 7 Dec 2015, He’s wife went to the Foshan Nanhai District Detention Center to bring him clothes and money. He’s lawyer went with the family members; he was unable to complete the visitation request procedures in the morning, and when he requested visitation again in the afternoon, he and family members were denied a visit on the grounds that they did not have a prior appointment.
The lawyer stated that the detention center’s request for ‘prior appointment’ is illegal.
Family members expressed that He has long-term stomach problems, so unable to meet with He they have no way of knowing whether how his health is inside the detention center.

3. Zhu Xiaomei (朱小梅)
The morning of 7 Dec 2015, Zhu’s lawyer went to the Guangzhou No. 1 Detention Center to see her and was denied a meeting by the detention center. The detention center demanded a statement from the public security bureau before they would arrange a meeting.
According legal guidelines, in the case of charges of “inciting a crowd to disturb public order”, a lawyer can meet his client without the approval of the investigating authorities. Thus, the behavior of the Guangzhou No. 1 Detention Center is illegal.

4. Deng Xiaoming (鄧小明)
The afternoon of 7 Dec, upon learning that the Guangzhou No. 1 Detention Center denied Zhu’s lawyers request to meet her, Deng’s lawyer went to the Panyu branch of the Public Security Bureau to apply for legal defense rights and plans to demand a meeting with Deng on December 9th.

IV. Activists still unable to be contacted
Meng Han (孟晗), a staff member at the Panyu Dagongzu Service Center (番禺打工族服务部) and Tang Jian (汤建), former staff at the Service Center, as of now have still not been able to be contacted.

We strongly hope the public will pay attention the development of this case and demand the immediate release the activists Zeng, He, Zhu and Deng!

I have devoted by whole life to support socialism. Now, successors of socialism, will you return me a favor by forwarding such news?

Trust me, helping each other won’t lower the GDP, forwarding and following won’t make capitalism smile!

Nao
Dec 10 2015 08:10

Updated and revised version of this article just published here: http://labornotes.org/blogs/2015/12/chinese-labor-activists-detained-en-masse