Police in China's Guangdong Detain Two Labor Activists

china-migrant-worker-beijing-jan-2019.jpg A migrant worker sits next to his belongings against a wall displaying government propaganda at the Beijing railway station in Beijing, Jan. 21, 2019.
AP Photo

Authorities in the southern Chinese province of Guangdong have detained a labor activist who campaigned for workers affected by workplace-related sickness and injury.

Wei Zhili was taken away during a 1:00 a.m. encounter with police on Thursday, as he made his way back to his parental home in the provincial capital Guangzhou, the Weiquanwang rights website reported.

"The police then entered and searched his room, handcuffing him and confiscating his possessions," the report said.

Police accused Wei of opposing the ruling Chinese Communist Party and of "disrupting public order."

They told his parents he had been "brainwashed" into his activism, and was being taken away for "re-education."

The same night, fellow activist Ke Chengbing was also detained, Wei's wife told RFA.

Wei's detention came after he and Ke had supported workers in the central province of Hunan to pursue compensation for pneumoconiosis linked their working conditions.

"They have long been concerned about the living conditions and rights of ... migrant workers, and have spoken out on behalf of vulnerable groups with no concern for themselves," Weiquanwang's report said.

Wei's wife Zheng Churan, one of the five feminists detained ahead of International Women's Day 2015, said she had made inquiries with police in Guangzhou and Shenzhen, where Wei worked.

"I couldn't get any information," Zheng said. "The police station near his [parental home] denied that they had detained him."

"As for Ke Chengbing, I am pretty certain that he has been detained, because the police told Wei's parents that they were detaining a lot of people that night, and Ke Chengbing has been incommunicado for more than 24 hours now," she said.

Crackdown on labor movements

The detentions come amid an ever-widening crackdown on grassroots labor movements in Chinese factories.

Activists in Hong Kong have called for the release of more than 30 former workers at the Jasic Technology factory in neighboring Guangdong province and members of the Jasic Workers' Solidarity Group (JWSG), who were supporting them.

At least 44 labor activists, students, and recent graduates of China's top universities have been "disappeared" or criminally detained since the nationwide crackdown on the Jasic labor movement, which started in July and continued with further waves of arrests and detentions in August, September, November, and January, the JWSG reported on its Github page.

Among the "disappeared" are Sun Yat-sen University graduate and Jasic movement spokeswoman Shen Mengyu and Peking University #MeToo campaigner Yue Xin.

Reported by Wen Yuqing for RFA's Cantonese Service. Translated and edited by Luisetta Mudie.


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