At Least 15 Workers, Maoist Supporters Still Detained Over Labor Union Campaign

Many former workers at Jasic Technology in China's southern city of Shenzhen remain behind bars or under house arrest following mass detentions last month.

Jasic Workers' Support Group, whose members were detained on Aug. 24, is shown in an undated photo.

Authorities in China are still holding 15 people following mass detentions of workers in the southern province of Guangdong, along with Maoist campaigners supporting their campaign for an independent trade union.

Peking University graduate and former #MeToo campaigner Yue Xin remains incommunicado after being detained along with around 50 other supporters of the workers' movement at the Jasic Technology factory in Guangdong's Shenzhen city, the support campaign said in a statement posted to Github.

Shang Kai, editor of the leftist website Red Reference, is currently under criminal detention in Zengcheng Detention Center in Guangdong's provincial capital Guangzhou alongside Maoist youth campaigner Yang Shaoqiang, while fellow Maoist activist Gu Jiarui is being held under "residential surveillance" in the same district.

Migrant workers' rights campaigner Fu Changguo and former Jasic employees Hu Pingping and Wu Haiyu have been in the Shenzhen No. 2 Detention Center since Aug. 24, the group said, while labor rights activist Huang Qingnan has been released on "bail."

Meanwhile, former Jasic workers Yu Lingcong, Mi Jiuping, Liu Penghua, and Li Zhan were all placed under formal arrest by police in the city on Sept. 3, following their initial detention at the factory on July 27, it said.

Maoist campaigner Shen Mengyu, who briefly emerged as the leader of the Jasic supporters' group, has been under house arrest at her home in Yongzhou city, in the central province of Hunan.

Home surrounded

Police on Tuesday surrounded Yu Lingcong's home and tried to detain his wife Huang Lanfeng, she said in a "distress call" that was posted to Twitter by the Jasic Supporters' Group.

"My husband is still in the detention center; he didn't get out yet," Huang says in a video message. "There are police everywhere ... and right outside the door. They just called the landlord to get them to unlock the door."

"I think they're going to force their way in through the door in a minute; I will resist them all the way," said Huang, who is also a former Jasic employee.

Calls to Huang's cell phone went unconnected on Wednesday, and there were no more updates from her on social media. She was briefly detained in July on suspicion of "picking quarrels and stirring up trouble" after protesting her husband's detention outside her local police station.

Repeated calls to the police department in Dongguan city, where the couple were living, rang unanswered during office hours on Wednesday.

A number of sources close to the Jasic campaign declined to comment when contacted by RFA on Wednesday, saying it was "inconvenient," a term often used by dissidents and rights activists to suggest they are under surveillance and monitoring.

Among them was veteran Guangdong labor activist Zhang Zhiru.

"I'm not allowed to give interviews about the Jasic situation," Zhang said, before hanging up the phone.

Widespread support

Shenzhen-based migrant worker Xie Liusheng told RFA that the Jasic campaign garnered widespread support across China, and that he and many others had been called in by police or officials and warned not to take part or "pay attention" to it.

"This is the first time we have seen such a large movement in a number of years," Xie said. "But as soon as the workers kick up a fuss, the authorities start detaining them."

"As soon as they start detaining people, the workers start to get frightened, and are forced to make concessions," he said. "They have no way to follow up."

Xie, a veteran workers' rights campaigner, said the Shenzhen police had sought him out and warned him not to take part.

In neighboring Hong Kong, the Confederation of Trade Unions has launched a solidarity campaign with the Jasic workers and their supporters, calling on unions around the world, including the ruling Chinese Communist Party's All-China Federation of Trade Unions (ACFTU) to support the workers and students.

HKCTU organizing secretary Lam Cho-ming said the group had had difficulty getting hold of the right documentary evidence to back up a formal complaint to the International Labor Organization (ILO).

"In 2015, when they were arresting workers in Guangdong, we successfully filed a complaint with the International Labor Organization to complain that the Chinese government had violated their freedom of association," Lam told RFA.

"I had hoped we could follow the same plan this time, but most of the key workers’ representatives have been arrested this time," he said."We have experienced some difficulty in collecting evidence and collecting information."

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