Demand for fair and open trial International and Hong Kong Civil Community watch the assault on the legal person of Dagongzhe Centre

Press Release

2008.12.24

Demand for fair and open trialInternational and Hong Kong Civil Community watch the assault on the legal person of Dagongzhe Centre 

Around 15 representatives of international and Hong Kong labour and civil organizations were packed in the Shenzhen Longgang People’s Court for the hearing of Huang Qingnan’s attack case. The attendees showed the full support to the victim and urged for a fair and open trial, severe penalty against the attackers in according to the law.

The labour organization under attacks is called “Dagongzhe Centre (DGZ Centre)”, which registered as “company” in Longgang District of Shenzhen city. With funding from overseas, it provides free library, labour law education and consultation to the migrant workers in the neighbourhood community. On 20 Nov 2007, the legal person of the centre, Huang Qingnan was attacked by two assassinators with knives, at the street behind the centre, when he was on his way for work. His back, waist, left leg were stabbed and left him wounds more than 10 centimetres long. His left leg has the worst cuts. His muscle, bones, blood vessels, and nerves were cut apart. He has recovered with permanent handicapped on his left leg. 

According to the court, the master mind Zhong Wei Qi, one of the five suspects, is a local influential resident who owns several plants and plant premises. According to the Court, he considered that the publicity of Labour Contract Law by DGZ Centre impacting his business negatively. He then retaliated by deploying the attack. 

The court trial has been delayed unusually.

The five suspects have been detained since January 2008 while the trial was not started according to the law. The suspects asked the court many times to reassess Huang Qingnan’s disability. On the other hand, someone was found shooting Huang Qingnan’s daily living without his consent. Two weeks ago, the Shenzhen City Bureau of Justice delivered the statement, “Huang Qingnan’s disability is not qualified for grade 6, we cannot exactly determine his disability a severe one.”  This was to overturn Huang Qingnan’s grade 6 disability which was certified by the Shenzhen City Procuratorate and the Public Security Bureau early 2008. In the same time, Huang Qingnan’s application for employee injury certification was turned down by the Administrative Litigation.

Today, a small court that can only accommodate 16 people was arranged, the court, therefore, rejected the over 50 workers and representative from other civil groups and over 15 people from Hong Kong to sit in. But at the same time, the relative of suspects could enter the court without any obstruction. Huang and the lawyer request to change the court to a large one wit capacity of 100 people, but this request was rejected since the Court have to “ask for instruction from the supervising level”. The court offered two choices: to carry out the hearing while more than 60 people with Huang cannot go inside; or adjourn the trial. Since the court cannot offer a proper arrangement for an open trial, Huang can only chose to adjourn the trial.

Huang told that he was very disappointed and astounded by the rejection to have an open trial, and hope that the court can fix a date for trial as soon as possible, and carry out an open and fair trial that both side can have equal right to sit in the trial.

International community: grave concern on the fair trial and severe penalty according to the law

Asia Monitor and Resources Centre commented, “The case of justice for Huang Qingnan will strongly reflect whether the rule of law in China can protect its working citizens who are just struggling to receive what the law promises. Already 11 months have passed since solving Huang’s case. Such a delay in conducting the trial is unusual. The trial was arranged a few days after the Judicial Bureau of Shenzhen City sent a notice to the court overturn the appraisal result originally released by the Shenzhen Public Security Bureau. It raises a doubt whether some party is trying to influence the judgement. If so, the equity and fairness of the case will definitely suffer from the intervention.”

A spokesperson for the Ethical Trading Initiative, an alliance of companies, unions and NGOs working to improve the lives of workers, commented: “The government’s response to the violence against the Dagongzhe Center and Huang Qingnan will set a tone for the future.  If not resolved properly, this incident could undermine trust in the government and drive workers and employers to more extreme forms of conflict.  ETI sincerely hopes the courts will pursue those responsible for the attacks with justice and that the government will do its utmost to protect Chinese civil society from future violence.  Only by nurturing forms of conflict resolution that preserve a harmonious society will

China build a foundation for long term business growth.” After the incidents, DGZ Centre received enormous supports from international and Hong Kong civil community. Organizations such as Worker Empowerment, Labour Action in China, Asia Monitor and Resources Centre, Globalization Monitor that are running projects in China immediately launched an international appeal to urge the Shenzhen city government for stoppage of any form of violence towards the civil organizations and the staff as it is the basic civil rights enshrined in the laws. More than 70 organizations from different part of the world endorsed the appeal. The Brussels-based International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) and its affiliates around the world have written to the Chinese authorityto express concern over Huang Qingnan’s attack and the harrassment of independant labour groups in general. Dominique Muller of the ITUC Hong Kong Liaison Office said, “The ITUC has written to Hu Jintao several times on this case and has asked for the appropriate investigation into the case along with the proper penalty for the offenders according to the law. Our concerns have been also conveyed to the local Chinese authorities. We will continue to support Huang Qingnan and all others peacefully working to improve labour rights and core freedoms.” Workers demand Government primary responsibility: labour rights protection in the Shenzhen

Luo, one of Shenzhen workers, sitting in the court for hearing, commented, “the factory employers of Longgang district very often use illegal means to deprive workers of overtime pay and economic (termination) compensation. The Labour Contract Law serves to protect worker’s rights but the employers violated the Law. I was beaten up when asking for back wages. Employers do not respect to the laws nor worker’s rights. Violence is their solution. This is absolutely not acceptable. I wish fair legal proceedings and severe punishment on the attackers as to enforce the respect to workers and the labour laws! “

By Asia Monitor Resources Centre; Globalisation Monitor; Labour Action in China; Students and Scholars Against Corporate Misbehavior (SACOM); Worker Empowerment