Freedom of Speech is not a crime! Release labour rights activist Liu Shaoming now!

Labour rights activist Liu Shaoming, in detention since 2015, has been indicted of “inciting subversion of state power” for publishing online memoirs of his recollections of the 1989 pro-democracy movement. His trial will be held on July 7, 2017, according to his lawyer, Wu Kuiming. Liu Shaoming faces a 5-year sentence if found guilty. The Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions and a number of Hong Kong based labour NGOs strongly protest the Chinese government’s repression of freedom of speech and call for Liu Shaoming’s immediate and unconditional release.

Liu Shaoming, 59, born in Jiangxi province, worked in a steel factory when he was young. During the 1989 pro-democracy movement, he joined China’s first independent union, the Beijing Workers' Autonomous Federation. Accused of “counter-revolutionary propaganda and incitement” he was sentenced to one year in prison. During the two decades after his release, he worked as a porter, a factory handyman, a security guard, a gardener, a psychiatric caretaker, and a construction worker, experiencing the harsh life of a worker in China in his own flesh. In recent years, Liu Shaoming committed himself to China’s labour movement, helping workers organise themselves, particularly in Guangdong province, southern China, and has been detained by authorities over a dozen times for speaking his mind. In June 2014 Liu Shaoming organised in Guangzhou a lonely vigil commemorating the 25th anniversary of the June 4 massacre in Tiananmen Square: he was detained for 10 days for this. In May 2015, Liu Shaoming published online his “Memoirs of June 4”, a detailed first-person account of the events in Tiananmen Square, and not long after, on May 29, he was arrested. On July 14, 2015 he was indicted of “inciting subversion of state power”.

To this date, Liu Shaoming sustains his innocence, and for this he has been in detention for over 2 years, while his trial deliberately delayed. This constitutes not only a violation of his legal rights but also complete disregard for the interests of his family. During this time, he has been locked up with criminal offenders, his requests to be moved to a separate cell denied. During this prolonged detention, his health deteriorated: reports indicate that Liu Shaoming has been suffering from abdominal pain since October 2016. Liu Shaoming needs proper medical attention now, the negligence suffered by labour rights activist Li Wangyang and Nobel Peace Prize laureate, Liu Xiaobo should not be repeated.

As a witness to the 1989 pro-democracy movement, Liu Shaoming told his story in an online memoir; as a labour rights activist, Liu Shaoming helped workers organise in their demands for their fair share. Liu Shaoming is innocent! There is no freedom of speech in China, there is no freedom of association in China: the Communist Party of China is retaliating against his activism. Freedom of speech is not a crime, immediately and unconditionally release Liu Shaming now!

We demand:

1_Immediate and unconditional release of Liu Shaoming

2_Withdrawal of all criminal charges against Liu Shaoming

3_Provison of proper medical attention for Liu Shaoming

July 5, 2017

Signed by:

Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions

China Labour Bulletin

Students and Scholars Against Corporate Misbehaviour

Worker Empowerment

Labour Action China

Labour Education and Service Network

Globalization Monitor

Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements of China

Neighbourhood and Worker's Service Centre

League of Social Democrats

Labour Party

Asia Monitor Resource Centre