Chinese Government Sentenced Rights Defending Reporters to Forbid Public’s Rights to Know

May 30 this year, three Chinese labour activists, Huahai Feng, Li Zhao, and Su Heng were arrested in Jianxi Province, when investigating labour rights conditions in a shoe factory, the Huajian Group, that makes Ivanka Trump-branded shoes. Three people were detained for nearly a month being being released on June 28.

According to the China Labor Watch, before their arrests, Hua Haifeng and the others have collected evidence of labor rights and "labor law" violations at the Huajian factory. These include long working hours up to 18 hours per day and only one rest day every two weeks; factory managers often abused or insulted women in foul language and even exerted corporal punishments; evasion of overtime compensation were common, which resulting in wages lower than the statutory minimum wage level; and the factory even seized one month of salary from the workers as compensation in case of resignation.

Almost at the same time on August 3, the founder of mainland rights defending news platform "Not the News", Lu Yuyu, was sentenced to 4 years in prison at the Dali City Court in Yunnan after more than 1 year of detentions on charges of “Picking Quarrels and Provoking Trouble”. Meanwhile, Lu Yuyu’s girlfriend and business partner, Li Tingyu, who was arrested at the same time was reportedly released earlier in April this year. Since 2013, “Not the News” disclosed news of mass incidents across China, including land expropriation protests, workers strikes, and property owners protests every day on the Internet to unveil the truth of social injustice in China. In recognition of their sacrifices for defending freedom of speech, Lu Yuyu and Li Tingyu were awarded the “Reporters Without Borders (RSF) – TV5 Monde Press Freedom Prize” in November 2016.

In fact, it is absurd that activists are arrested and imprisoned for disclosing evidence of corporate and government wrongdoings, while these enterprises and government officials continue to go unpunished. As businesses are constantly seeking maximum profits on the expense of labor rights and the environment, the purpose to expose corporates and government wrongdoings is to defend the consumers’ and public’s rights to know, and hence, serves as a means to monitor corporates and government. Unfortunately, the Chinese government chose to arrest and suppress those who dare to seek for the truth and condone those who continue to infringe labor rights, to forbid the public’s right to know, and to prevent the truth being leaked to the outside world.