The Democratic Socialists of America advocates fundamental human rights throughout the world, and offers its support in solidarity to all those who are deprived of those rights.
Among those fundamental human rights are freedom of association, to create a labor union and to engage in collective bargaining.
Local political authorities in the Guangdong Province of China have launched a wave of repression against worker centers, their staff and activists. These small NGOs have played a significant role in assisting internal migrant workers to exercise their basic rights, to fight for wages and social benefits to which they are legally entitled. For example, the Panyu Migrant Workers Service Center in an industrial district of the city of Guangzhou assisted workers at the Taiwanese-owned Lide shoe factory to receive the compensation and social insurance in arrears they were owed when their factory was relocated. The Panyu Center also assisted forty local sanitation workers obtain legally required severance pay from their former cleaning contractor and to sign new contracts with the new contractor.
Now the director of the Panyu Center, Zeng Feiyang, and one of its key worker activists Zhu Xiaomei have been arrested and placed under criminal detention on charges of “disrupting public order.” Zhu Xiaomei, who played a leading role in assisting the Lide Shoe and sanitation workers, has even been separated from the one-year-old daughter that she was breastfeeding. Several other staff and activists from four worker centers remain in detention, held incommunicado and refused their right to see lawyers.
We believe that this savage repression is motivated by the panic of local government authorities occasioned by the growth of unofficial protests and strikes by migrant workers in the Guangdong province who are suffering from the closures or relocations of their workplaces. Rather than addressing the underlying problems, the authorities appear to be trying to deprive workers of their right to any kind of support or representation by jailing those who have offered them legal support and advice.
We join the protests of the numerous labor unions and worker rights activists based in Hong Kong who have been organizing a campaign of protest in support of their colleagues on the Mainland.
As an organization that supports universal human and labor rights, the Democratic Socialists of America call on the Chinese government to:
1. Immediately release all the detained labor activists
2. Stop suppressing labor activists, labor organizations and civil society organizations.
3. Respect and protect the development and freedom of civil society as prescribed by China’s Constitution.