End Political Repression of Chinese Labour Rights Advocates
On 3 December, 2015, the Chinese authorities in Guangdong performed a wide-ranging crackdown on labour rights activists and labour organisations supporting factory workers. Many were detained or went missing, including Zeng Feiyang, the director of the Panyu Workers’ Centre, and Meng Han, a former staff member. Despite others being released in recent months, these two remained in prison where they were denied the basic right to meet with lawyers, and the government news agency released defaming reports against them.
The crackdown has been linked to a specific labour dispute at the Lide Shoe Factory in Panyu district, where a strike of more than 2500 workers led to a successful negotiation in 2015 with factory management over social insurance, housing contributions, overtime and annual leave payments. Zeng Feiyang, Meng Han and the Panyu Workers' Centre were actively involved in assisting workers in understanding their legal rights in this negotiation, and their continued detention by Chinese officials is believed to be a punishment and consequence of their supportive role in this struggle. Zhu Xiaomei, a further staff member, has been released on bail with serious charges pending.
This is brutal and illegal political repression. The persecution of independent civil society organizations that advocate on behalf of garment and footwear workers in Guangdong not only violates the associational rights of the advocates targeted, but effectively deprives workers throughout the province of the assistance of these groups, which is vital if workers are to achieve a greater level of respect for their rights at work.
I strongly believe that the brands sourcing from the Lide Shoe factory have a clear role to play in calling for an end to the political repression of these workers and their advocates. This petition is calling on them to use their influence to pressure Chinese officials to release the detained activists. Their shoes are a product of this struggle.
**UPDATE: In September 2016, the hearings took place for three Chinese activists including Zeng Feiyang. They were given suspended prison sentences for "disturbing social order", just for educating workers about their rights at the Lide Shoe Factory. Since their arrests in December 2015, they had spent long periods in detention, often denied meetings with their lawyers. Meng Han, the remaining activist in detention, has his hearing set for the 3 and 4 November. Ask these brands to call for Meng Han's release, and get involved on our facebook and twitter pages***
- Li & Fung, Frye
- Ralph Lauren
- Calvin Klein
I am writing to draw your attention to the continued detention of labour rights activist Meng Han who was arrested on 3 December 2015 in a crackdown in the southern province of Guangdong, China. In September 2016, three activists including Zeng Feiyang were given suspended prison sentences for "disturbing social order". The work of these labour advocates is clearly linked to worker protests at the now closed Lide Shoe Factory in Panyu district, where your brand was producing goods.
As a brand sourcing from the factory directly linked to this incident, we feel you have a duty to ensure human rights are respected and that the political repression of these activists comes to an end. Your brand should call for Meng Han's immediate release.
Please take action today by: 1) expressing concern about the current repression of labour rights advocates, in writing, to the Chinese government at Panyu district level, the municipal government of Guangzhou, and the district and provincial Public Security Bureaus; and 2) requesting the immediate end of the detention of the labour rights advocate Mr. Meng Han.
I hope to hear from you about the action that you are able to take.
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