Global call: Demand the Chinese authorities to immediate release the detained labour activists!

Today (21 December) marks the launch of the global call for action in solidarity with the detained labour activists in China. As of now, international trade unions including the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC), IndustriALL, French Democratic Confederation of Labour (CDFT), E-TU from New Zealand, Cape Verde Confederation of Free Trade Unions (CCSL), Alliance of Progress Labour from the Philippines (APL) and Belarusian Congress Of Democratic Trade Unions (BKDP) have sent letters to the Chinese government expressing their concerns over the recent arrests of labour activists in Guangdong Province. In Geneva, the International Union of Food Workers (IUF) is planning a protest in front of the Chinese embassy. More solidarity actions from trade unions around the world are expected. Labour organizations from Britain, France, Denmark and India have organized protests at the Chinese embassies in their respective countries to demand the immediate release of the activists being held by the Chinese government. Labour rights NGOs from Germany, the Netherlands, Norway, Finland, Japan, Indonesia, Taiwan, Latin America and the United States (Los Angeles, San Francisco and Seattle) have also carried out a photo campaign in response to the global solidarity action. All protest photos will be delivered directly to the Chinese government via email.  
About 50 representatives from the Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions and other labour rights organizations from Hong Kong are also joining the league in support of the global action by staging a protest march starting from the Western District Police Station at 2:30PM to the China’s Liaison Office. The representatives present a joint petition signed up by more than 155 labour organizations and over 2,000 individual supporters across the world for urging the Chinese authorities to release the recently detained labour activists in the country. Following the protest action, the organizers set up a street booth to run a ‘one-person-one-photo’ campaign outside the SOGO department store in Causeway Bay at 4:00PM. We would invite the public supporters to upload their photos onto their own as well as the “Free Chinese labour activists now” facebook page.

Since 3 December, the authorities in the southern Chinese province of Guangdong have carried out a coordinated and wide-ranging crackdown on labour rights activists and labour organizations in the province. More than 25 people from at least four labour organizations have been taken away and questioned by the police. At least seven of them have been criminally detained or currently uncertain whereabouts. Those five who are being put under criminal detention on charges include:Zeng Feiyang, the director of Panyu Workers’ Centre and labour organizer Zhu Xiaomei; labour activist He Xiaobo, who runs a group in Foshan called Nanfeiyan that helps injured workers; Activist Peng Jiayong, the founder of a workers’ self-help group, and another labour activist Deng Xiaoming. The authorities have prevented lawyers from meeting any of the detained. Labour activist Meng Han is being detained at Guangzhou City No. 1 Detention Centre, although the criminal detention notice is not yet issued. Activist Tang Jian is also known to be taken away by the police, but his location and charges are unclear. The police has continued to harass and intimidate the family members and friends of the detained activists and prevented them from giving media interviews. In May 2015, Guangzhou Public Security Bureau detained labour activist Liu Shaoming and denied his rights to meet with his lawyer, quoting that he has been charged with “inciting subversion of state power”.

This is the largest coordinated crackdown targeting labour rights activists in recent years, following the arrest of five women rights activists in March and the nationwide crackdown against human rights lawyers in July. As shown in these political crackdowns, the Chinese government is tightening its grip on civil society in the country.

The organizers set up a street booth to run a ‘one-person-one-photo’ campaign outside the SOGO department store in Causeway Bay to call for public concern and support on the detained Chinese Labour Activists

We demand:

  1. Immediately and unconditionally release all the detained labour activists.
  2. Stop suppressing labour organisations, workers’ representatives and civil society organisations.
  3. Respect and protect the development and freedom of civil society as prescribed by China’s Constitution.

For more details, please refer to: