Fu Changguo, staff member of the Dagongzhe Workers Centre in Shenzhen and partner of Worker Empowerment, has been summoned by the Pingshan District Public Security Sub-Bureau on 10 August 2018 in connection with the protest by the Jaisic workers and has been held incommunicado since then. Today marks a full year of detention of Fu Changguo, during which he was held under multiple forms of custody. Worker Empowerment expresses deep sympathy towards his family. At the same time Worker Empowerment has been closely concerned with the development of circumstances. Within this year, Fu Changguo and his family have been put through the following unreasonable or even illegal treatments by the authorities:
- Before his detention, between 25 July 2018 and 10 August 2018, Fu Changguo had been summoned five times by the police. Yet after he was held incommunicado, his family was not informed until 23 August.
- On 24 August 2018, the Xinhua News Agency published a report, accusing Fu of incitement and agitation on the internet during the JASIC factory workers protest, making him a criminal in public’s eye before solid evidences could be submitted and he had been charged.
- To date, 4 lawyers have successively been hired by his families. 3 of them already withdrew due to direct or indirect pressure from the Department of Justice of the Guangdong Province.
- Except for one meeting successfully arranged on 20 September 2018, all other attempts by lawyers to meet Fu were declined.
- In December 2018 Fu Changguo’s mother’s health deteriorated. His family filed multiple requests to the Pingshan District Public Security Sub-Bureau for him to be released on bail, but all requests were declined. His mother passed away on 10 January 2018 without seeing him for one last time. Fu was also refused the opportunity to attend his mother’s funeral.
- Fu Changguo was transferred away from the Shenzhen City No. 2 detention center on 26 January 2019. His family was not informed about that until March 2019. Police officers refused to disclose the whereabouts of Fu despite having received a complaint of overdue detention by lawyers.
- On 15 May 2019, through a phone call by police officers, Fu’s families were informed that he was under Residential Surveillance at a Designated Location (RSDL). The officer refused to disclose the location of RSDL. Until today the lawyer representing Fu and his family have been unable to contact him.
- No written notification was issued on Fu’s transferal from criminal detention to RSDL. On 25 July 2019 his families were required to sign a document on the date his surveillance was due to end. Yet even though the enforced residential surveillance was due end, Fu was still not released.
- Under custody, Fu Changguo’s right to meet and communicate with family and lawyers, as well as to be fairly treated during different stages of the legal process were denied.
Worker Empowerment is of the opinion that the above circumstances reveal the lack of comprehensive legal protection obtained by Fu Changguo during the year, and that the Pingshan District Public Security Sub-Bureau has not upheld the spirit of the national law. According to law Residential Surveillance at a Designated Location, which Fu Changguo was held under for the past 6 months, is only applicable to suspects of crimes related to endangering state security or terrorism, as well as those without fixed address whose investigation would be hindered by that. The suspected crime of Fu Changguo, “Gathering a Crowd to Disrupt Order”, is clearly different from the above criteria.
Fu Changguo has been in custody for one long year. We believe that should be enough for the Pingshan District Public Security Sub-Bureau to carry out a thorough investigation. The Dagongzhe Workers Centre had been law-abiding, providing services such as legal advice and cultural activities for the workers in the district. The centre had never involved in agitation or organization of radical acts. Hence, we believe Fu’s involvement in the JASIC protest in 2018, which was merely circulating news articles, had not endangered the society. Mistakes may be made by him but none deserved conviction.
Apart from Fu’s situation, we are also aware of the arrest of 13 persons from 8 labor right groups and social work organizations in Mainland China since the beginning of the year. Between January and March 2019, 3 members from the labor right-oriented media platform iLabour, as well as 5 staff and former staff from three separate labor right groups and a lawyers’ chamber specializing in labor law were either detained or prosecuted. In May, 5 more members from various labor right groups and social work organizations were held under custody. We express our deepest concern of the recent developments.
Labor right groups in Mainland China, which had helped workers in claiming their legally entitled rights by peaceful means, should absolutely not be charged with “picking quarrels and provoking trouble” or “Gathering a Crowd to Disrupt Order”. Labor right advocates who have served grass-root workers for years in Guangdong Province uphold the goal of eliminating poverty and constructing a prosperous society. That coincides with the vision of the central government and should not be reason for any attack. We hereby demand:
- The immediate release of Fu Changguo.
- The immediate release of all other arrested members from labor right groups, labor right-oriented media and social work organizations, including: Wu Guijun, Zhang Zhiru, He Yuancheng, Jian Hui, Song Jiahui, Yang Zhengjun, Wei Zhili, Ke Chengbing, Wuqing Wenxian, Tong Feifei, Li Changjiang, Li Dajun, Liang Zhicun and others.
- In enforcing the law, the Public Security Department should cease further harassment, unreasonable detention, or forced eviction of labor rights groups.
- The central government should enact a legal system granting legal status to labor rights groups. Labor rights groups shall be protected by law in their work to serve workers.