A U.S.-based human rights group has called on the Chinese authorities to account for the whereabouts of dozens of people detained in a nationwide crackdown on the Jasic Technology labor movement in the southern city of Shenzhen.
Listing a total of 32 people currently held on public order charges or incommunicado at an unknown location, the New York-based Human Rights in China (HRIC) said even those detained in known locations have been denied permission to see a lawyer.
"HRIC calls on the Chinese authorities to account for the whereabouts of all those missing and to guarantee their personal safety and that they are free from torture," the group said in a statement on its website.
"The authorities must accord all detainees due process in accordance with Chinese and international law, including access to lawyers of their own choosing, and allow the detainees visits by family members," it said.
Meanwhile, a statement from the now-banned Marxism study group at China's prestigious Peking University (Beida) said the ruling Chinese Communist Party has shut down Marxist and Maoist study groups on major university campuses across the country, including the Beijing Language and Culture University, Renmin University, the Beijing University of Science and Technology, and Nanjing University.
"Recently, in particular, the revenge being exacted by the bureaucracy [on participants in such societies] has worsened, and has included chats [with state security police], surveillance, following and isolation," the group said in a statement posted to the Jasic Workers' Solidarity Group (JWSG) page on Github.
"The authorities at Beida, shamefully, have even forced some students to suspend their studies," it said. "We had wrongly believed that universities were hallowed ground where young people could explore ideas ... now that illusion has been shattered."
According to HRIC, Beida authorities "did nothing to stop the intrusion and violence" during the physical assault and abduction of recent graduate Zhang Shengye last month.
U.S.-based politics scholar and Beida law graduate Wang Tiancheng said Beida plays a key role in the ruling Communist Party regime.
"The suppression of these students who supported the labor rights movement reflects the contradictory status of Beida as an institute of higher education," Wang told RFA in a recent interview. "On the one hand, Beida has to fulfill its mission of imparting knowledge and cultivating talent through independent thought, but on the other it must help to maintain Communist Party rule."
"That's why it has to control the activities of students outside the classroom, through student associations, and involvement in public affairs and welfare activities," he said.
While some of those detained have subsequently been released, as of now, a total of 32 individuals are still in custody, disappeared, or under "residential surveillance in a designated place," HRIC said, adding that four former Jasic workers have been criminally charged with "gathering a crowd to disrupt social order."
Of the 32, only five are known to be held at an official detention facility with an address—the Shenzhen Municipal No. 2 Detention Center, it said.
The remaining 27 are being held at unknown locations.
Last month, authorities in the southern province of Guangdong also detained Huang Sha, a lawyer who had been representing former workers and labor activists linked to the unionization campaign at the Jasic Technology factory.
Huang's detention came after a nationwide police operation targeting both former Jasic workers and JWSG activists, many of whom are recent graduates of some of China's top universities who became involved with the labor movement through Marxist and Maoist study groups on campus.
According to the JSWG, the detentions followed coordinated nationwide police raids on July 27, Aug. 24, Sept. 9, Nov. 9 and Nov. 11.
Among the detainees are Beida graduate and former #MeToo campaigner Yue Xin, Shang Kai, editor of the Maoist website Red Reference, and Maoist youth campaigner Yang Shaoqiang.
Reported by Xiao An for RFA's Mandarin Service, and by the Cantonese Service. Translated and edited by Luisetta Mudie.