Chinese authorities are holding dozens of former workers and activists who took part in a nascent labor movement in the southern city of Shenzhen, continuing a nationwide crackdown begun in July, an activist group said.
"The workers formed a trade union according to law, but they were illegally fired by their employer and beaten up by the local police, “the Jasic Workers' Solidarity Group (JWSG) said in a statement posted to Github.
"The dark forces are crazy and violent, and have been brutally suppressing workers, students and concerned people who believe in Marxism-Leninism," it said in a statement dated Nov. 22, before listing 32 names of workers and activists.
The JWSG listed a total of 18 people detained in a string of coordinated nationwide arrests on Nov. 9 -- including former Jasic worker Tang Xiangwei and 12 university graduates.
The JWSG listed several alumni of the prestigious Peking University (Beida), where the authorities recently shut down a student Marxist study group.
A Beida alumnus who declined to be named told RFA on Friday that the Nov. 9 crackdown was far more severe than any that had come before, and confirmed the names of those detained.
Beida alumni Zhang Shengye, Sun Min, Zong Yang, He Pengchao and Wang Xiangyi were all detained in different cities on the same day, according to the list, which was also verified to RFA by a second anonymous source.
Sensitive rights surveys
A classmate of Wang Xiangyi's who declined to be named said she had founded the Qingying Social Work Center to help local migrant workers along with boyfriend He Pengchao.
"They were providing services to young migrant workers in Shenzhen," the classmate said. "He Pengchao joined the [Beida] Marxist study group later, and they started putting on movies for the university support staff, and teaching them English."
"They carried out some sensitive surveys of the rights of the support workers," the classmate said.
Sources told RFA that alumni and their families have also been targeted for warnings by police and college officials.
An employee who answered the phone at the Beida committee of the ruling Chinese Communist Party referred inquiries to the international cooperation department, which referred media inquiries to the college press office. However, calls to the press office rang unanswered during office hours on Friday.
A university official denied any knowledge of the arrests and refused to comment on the closure of the Marxism study group when contacted recently by a concerned parent of a current Beida student, according to an audio recording obtained by RFA.
The JWSG said on Friday that the authorities had "banned" its Twitter account, without detailing how. Twitter is blocked to Chinese internet users in the absence of circumvention tools to get around government censorship, but activists have recently reported that the authorities are forcing them delete their accounts on the platform.
"The #jasic Workers' Solidarity Group's original Twitter account @jasicworkers has been banned, so please follow ... @jasicworker," the group tweeted on Friday. "[They] won't silence us! We will fight to the end to free our compatriots!
Activist roughed up
Meanwhile, authorities in Shenzhen detained Jian Weiwei, a graduate of Beijing's Renmin University, which recently saw the termination of its academic exchange programs with Cornell University, which cited the "punishment" of students for supporting the labor movement.
Shenzhen police also raided the city's Qingying Social Work Center on Nov. 9, detaining support workers Kang Wei, Hou Changshan, Wang Xiaomei, He Xiumei. Jasic labor union officials Zou Liping and Li Ao were also detained, according to the JWSG's list.
Activists detained during earlier police raids on July 27, Aug. 24 and Sept. 9 also remain incommunicado, the group said, including Beida graduate and former #MeToo campaigner Yue Xin, Shang Kai, editor of the Maoist website Red Reference and Maoist youth campaigner Yang Shaoqiang.
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.
In a video posted to the JWSG Github page on Friday, Guangzhou worker Li Yuanzhu detailed his detention at the hands of three "unofficial" police officers, who pinned him to the ground in a room at his workplace, tied him up with his own belt and carried him off to the local police station.
"What is the difference between their behavior and that of a criminal gang? ... They subjected me to a 24-hour attempt to force a confession," he said. "They wanted me to smear the name of Shen Mengyu."
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 since the Aug. 24 police raid on student supporters of the Jasic labor movement.
In his video, Li breaks down, reporting that he told police what they wanted to hear under the pressure of the ordeal.
"I'm so sorry," he says.
Reported by Qiao Long for RFA's Mandarin Service. Translated and edited by Luisetta Mudie.