Hired Thugs Attack NGO

Chinese workers come under pressure in the Shenzhen factory zone.
2012-08-31
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Xiaoxiaocao Workers' Home staff sit outside their shuttered office, Aug. 30, 2012.
RFA

Unidentified thugs broke into the offices of a labor advocacy group in Shenzhen on Thursday, removing equipment and sealing doors in what appeared to be the latest of a series of assaults on nongovernmental organizations promoting workers’ rights in the factory-rich special economic zone.

The crowd of hammer-wielding assailants entered the Xiaoxiaocao Workers’ Home and ransacked it, injuring those who tied to stop them, a staffer surnamed Ding told RFA.

“About 60 thugs came in the afternoon and threw away all our things,” Ding said, adding that the attackers also welded the locks on the building’s back door.

“They welded the door and tightly closed it. We didn’t even notice that at first,” she said.

“The thugs separated us from nearby onlookers and neighbors. Some female coworkers tried to stop them and were slightly injured,” she added.

“We called the police many times, but the police never came.”

Following the attack, staffers took their things to a storage facility, but the facility’s manager told them on Friday that he would not rent to them, Ding said.

Forced from home

Also on Friday, a worker who had helped to find the storage facility was forced out of his home by his landlord, and two staffers of the workers’ group were harassed by unidentified men who turned up at their homes.

“We have now petitioned the Shenzhen municipal Letters and Calls Office and the office of the local National People’s Congress, but they told us they would not handle this issue and told us to take our complaints to the district level instead,” said Ding.

“I don’t think this is a simple case. Almost 10 other NGOs [in Shenzhen] have faced similar crackdowns,” she said.

Also speaking to RFA, the head of another Shenzhen-based workers’ group reported similar harassment.

“Our landlord asked us many times this year to end our lease, and our water and power have been cut from time to time,” said Chen Mao, head of the Workers’ Center in Shenzhen’s Longgang district.

The group finally abandoned its offices in June, he said.

Noting that the Party Secretary for Guangdong, Shenzhen’s home province, had said on July 1 that China needs more NGOs, Chen Mao said, “It seems they have a different policy for Shenzhen.”

“More than one NGO has been pressured here,” he said. “I don’t think this is normal.”

Following a slowing demand for exports, Chinese manufacturers are battling surging costs in almost all areas of their business, and southern China in particular has seen a string of strikes and labor-related unrest in recent months.

Reported by Wen Yuqing for RFA’s Cantonese service. Translated by Shiny Li. Written in English by Richard Finney.