Guangzhou labor activist Meng Han released after being detained for 38 days

On August 30, Guangdong labour rights activist Han Meng was arrested again by the police. Sources say that he was taken home by several plain-clothed and uniformed officers. His home was searched for more than an hour. Afterwards, he was taken back to the police station.

Meng was sentenced to twenty-one month in prison for assisting workers to defend their rights and found guilty of ‘Assembling a crowd to disturb the order at a public place’. In September 2017, after he was released from prison, he was once detained for publishing his letters from prison. He was originally a worker at the Yangtze River Navigational Affairs Administration, after layoff he worked as a security guard at The First Affiliated Hospital of Guangzhou University of Chinese Medicine since 2010. In 2013, Meng joined other security guards in the action of rights protection (weiquan), he was elected as the chief negotiator to fight for the benefit of fellow workers from the management. However, he was dismissed and jailed for nine months. In his defence statement, he unswervingly asserted, ‘it is my honour to be elected as a representative of the workers and the chief negotiator. Since then I am aware of the responsibility rested on my shoulders, I can do nothing else but to stand with the workers, to face difficulties squarely.’

From his own experience, Han Meng realized that when the workers in China were exploited and abused, they often have nowhere to turn to for assistance, so that they needed to be organized to fight. After his release, Han Meng continued to fight with the workers at the front line in the action of rights protection, he joined the service department of Panyu Dagongzu(Workers) Service Center to assist other workers fighting for their rights. During the labour dispute at Panyu Lide Shoe Factory in 2014-2015, to provide workers with more bargaining power, Meng assisted workers to elect their representatives, offered trade union education and raised strike fund. Meng successfully assisted workers in seeking high-temperature allowance, social insurance, unpaid Housing Provident Fund and relocation compensation, etc. 

After Meng had been caught, his family was arrested. Sources say that ten 'staff members went to the residence of Meng and asked his parents to move out within three days. Meng’s family refused. They stated that the lease remained valid at least for the next four years. Demanding them to move out now has no legal base. Noticeably, even though those 'staff members' asked them to move out within three days, the water and electricity supplies were already cut off on the very same day. 

Meng was finally released on 7 Oct, after he had been detained in Guangzhou for 38 days. The Nansha District Procuracy declined to prosecute Meng for committing the “picking quarrels and provoking trouble” crime. It seems that the detention was to prevent Meng from doing something that might disrupt the celebration of China’s National Day.