Statement From Worker Empowerment

Worker Empowerment (WE) is aware of an article published by Xinhua News, which mentions the involvement of WE and Dagongzhe Workers’ Centre (DGZ) in the recent JASIC incident.

 

WE is a Hong Kong-registered labour organisation focused on labour rights and labour policies, as well as service provision to vulnerable workers, in China. WE has been honoured to join forces with hundreds of thousands of social organisations and charities serving the general public, which have blossomed in China in the context of accelerating economic reform and improvement of the legal system in the past decade. WE contributes to the resolution of labour disputes and social conflicts with constructive labour policy recommendations and educational activities. During this period, our organization has never been accused of working illegally by Chinese authorities.

 

WE has never been involved in organizing or financially supporting JASIC workers or their supporters. Having been following the rapid developments in the recent JASIC incident, our organization hopes that the rights and safety of all participants are legally and reasonably taken care of as soon as possible.

 

WE has also been informed that Fu Changguo, a staff member of DGZ, has been criminally detained by the police in Pingshan, Shenzhen on a charge of supposedly committing “provocative and disturbing acts” since 10th August. Huang Qingnan, the legal person of DGZ, has also been criminally detained in Shenzhen on the same charge since 13th August. From late July onwards, current and former staff of DGZ, as well as workers who participate in DGZ activities, were repeatedly summoned by the local police for the JASIC incident. These DGZ-related individuals have reassured the police that they are not involved in the incident, not to mention organizing the JASIC workers.

 

To the knowledge of WE, DGZ has been serving grassroots migrant workers since 2000. It provides free legal consultation services to over 500 grassroots migrant workers annually, promotes labour laws and regulations, as well as more than 200 free educational activities and entertainments from which over 100,000 workers benefit. These would not be possible without the effort of enthusiastic individuals such as Huang Qingnan and Fu Changguo, who wholeheartedly serve migrant workers and society as a whole.

 

Huang Qingnan, who suffers from second-grade disability, first received help from labour organizations 20 years ago due to occupational injury. Self-taught in law after the injury, he provided free legal consultation services at DGZ, which was well-received by local workers. In 2007, Huang was violently assaulted by thugs hired by local factory owners due to his work at DGZ. This resulted in permanent disability on his left leg. After the incident, the Shenzhen police acted swiftly to solve the case and arrest the attackers. The municipal government and trade union also gave high regard to the work of Huang and DGZ by giving emergency financial aid. A year later, Huang left DGZ for his hometown in Fujian Province. He goes to Shenzhen only once or twice a year to visit DGZ staff and workers.

 

Fu Changguo, a current staff member of DGZ, is responsible mainly for legal consultation. With first-hand experience of inhumane working conditions in factories after graduating from high school, he taught himself legal knowledge to protect labour rights of himself and the others. Since his arrest, his family and lawyers have visited various police stations and detention centres in Shenzhen, but have still received no information about where he is, apart from the fact that he is under detention.

 

WE is seriously concerned about the current situation of Fu Changguo and Huang Qingnan, since they have been detained for more than two weeks and their lawyers’ effort in arranging a meeting with them has been in vain. WE sincerely hopes that the Shenzhen Police can clear any doubts about Fu and Huang and release them in due course. Meanwhile, as citizens of the People’s Republic of China, Fu and Huang are entitled to the right to meet and communicate with family and lawyers, as well as to be fairly treated during different stages of the legal process. Their health and safety should also be ensured, especially given Huang’s physical disability.

 

Last but not least, the Xinhua article specifically points out that training materials on worker organising were found in the computer of DGZ. WE believes that DGZ as an active organisation has received and archived numerous complimentary training materials. However all activities and legal consultation that DGZ has provided are well-recorded. Keeping the materials by no means equals using them in practical terms. If it is taken as evidence of the involvement of DGZ in the JASIC incident, which results in the detainment of DGZ staff and even potential conviction of committing “provocative and disturbing acts”, the thousands of individuals working in social organisations in China would also be at risk of being convicted. DGZ has been actively attempting to be formally registered with the Shenzhen Municipal Bureau of Civil Affairs, as well as keeping the channel of communication open with other government departments according to state laws and regulations. DGZ also communicates with the street-level police station on a regular basis. We sincerely hope that Xinhua News will better understand the contributions of DGZ and all social organisations to social improvement before making groundless accusations.

 

Worker Empowerment