Suppression on Labour Movement: New Labour Activists Formally Arrested

Five labour activists, Zhang Zhiru, He Yuancheng, Wu Guijun, Song Jiahui and Jian Hui were detained by the police in Shenzhen, Guangzhou and Changsha on 20 January 2019. Except He Yuancheng, they have been disallowed to meet with lawyers and their family members have been harassed by the authorities and told not to contact lawyers. On 26 and 27 February, the families of Zhang Zhiru, He Yuancheng and Wu Guijun finally learnt their charges separately.

He Yuancheng

Zhang and He were formally arrested and charged with “gathering a crowd to disturb public order” by the Procuratorate on 26 February. On the next day, the wife of Wu Guijun was informed by the Police Station of Baoan District in Shenzhen, with a letter stating Wu was formally arrested and charged with “gathering a crowd to disturb public order” by the Baoan District Procuratorate. The fate of the other two detainees, Song Jiahui and Jian Hui, remains unknown.

Zhang Zhiru

This new wave of suppression shows that the Guangdong Provincial Government is once again adopting heavy-handed measures to “eliminate those who raise their voices”, a usual tactic the Chinese Government adopts to handle labour disputes. However, putting labour activists behind bars could not stop the labour movement. In fact, despite the massive suppression of labour organizations in Guangdong in 2015, the Chinese labour movement has strived and spread. With internet and social media, they even organised cross-city protests, such as the tower crane operators and Lalamove drivers organised nationwide strikes in 2018 to safeguard their rights. These are the vivid examples that even labour activists are targeted, organised labour resistance is still going on.

What the Chinese Government does, is a violation of workers’ rights to strike and to organise, a slap in the face of civil society. The authority must release all detained labour activists and their supporters, respect labour rights, take actions against companies which violate labour laws and protect workers from exploitation.