June Fourth Special Edition 2015
The theme of this special edition issue is the struggles of the labour movement under authoritarian regimes. In Hong Kong, we have been trying to gain the support of the larger society to demand the immediate release of all imprisoned labour activists in China. We also demand that the Chinese government stop the violent repression and arbitrary detention of workers who are fighting to safeguard their rights. To learn from the experience of other countries, we have asked Dr. Chan Kalok, scholar and Civil Party legislator, to write about Solidarity, the Polish independent labour movement that fought against the dictatorial regime of the Soviet Union in the last century.
How many Li Wangyangs are there in the prisons of China?
Known as the “iron man of June 4th” - was a labour activist from Hunan. He was imprisoned for 22 years during which he lost his sight and hearing and was paralysed in the legs due to torture. When he was interviewed by Cable TV in May, 2012, he said he never regretted taking part in the democratic movement. “For the actualization of a multi-party system in China, even if I were beheaded, I would not regret it.”
On June 6, a few days after the interview was broadcast, Li was found dead in the hospital under strange circumstances. The Chinese authorities claimed that he had committed suicide. Li’s story drew publicattention to the situation of imprisoned labour activists in China. The CTU appealed to trade unions and civic societies around the world to write to the President and the Premier of China to strongly demand an investigation into Li’s death and to immediately cease persecuting labour activists.
This issue features the stories of three other labour activists; Liu Jian, Wang Miaogen and Zhu Fangming, all still in prison because of their participation in the June 4 democratic movement. Please continue to fight for their release and political rehabilitation.
The Labour Movement and Dictatorial Regimes Can Never Coexist
According to the communist regimes of the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, “the working class and the proletariat” were in charge in socialist societies.But in reality, the communist regimes had hijacked “democracy” in the name of the “People’s Republic”. After they had seized power, the leaders of the communist parties completely forgot their goal of liberating the oppressed. The first generation of revolutionary leaders replaced bottom-up grassroot democracy and decision making with totalitarian rule. Human dignity, individual rights and freedom were perpetually suppressed: personality cult, brainwashing education, official propaganda with only one voice, controlling and maneuvering the mass media, secret police, labour reform, concentration camps, violent suppression, embezzlement and corruption. To control the society, the dictators used both sticks and carrots to impose submission.
Signature Campaign Appeal: Release All Imprisoned Labour Activists,
Stop Violent Repression of Workers Fighting for Their Rights
As Chinese workers become aware of their legal rights, they are more militant in their struggles, which are also becoming more frequent. In the meantime, apart from forcing labour organisations to close down their offices, local governments are gradually turning to the use of violence and detention as repressive means against workers, who are often forced to accept resignation compensation which is much lower than what is stipulated in the law. In the first six months of 2015, there were at least three cases of labour disputes in which police broke into the venues where workers were meeting. They beat up and arbitrarily arrested staff of labour organisations and workers’ representatives. They were detained compulsorily for 1 to 20 days under the charge of “sabotaging production and operation”. At least 7 labour activists are now in prison (see name list below). They were sentenced to either life or long-term imprisonment. There are also innumerable but undocumented or covered-up cases of labour activists who are detained or criminalized.