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China: 30 people detained at pro-union factory protest must be released

‘Instead of trying to silence the protesters, the authorities should address the underlying allegations of abusive working conditions’ - Patrick Poon

Amnesty International today condemned the arrest of thirty people who were peacefully protesting in support of factory workers’ attempt to form a trade union at Jasic Technology in Shenzhen and has called for their release.

The thirty individuals – 23 men and seven women, including workers from the Jasic Technology factory, workers from other factories and a student – were placed under criminal detention on suspicion of “picking quarrels and provoking trouble” on 27 July by Yanziling Police Station in Pingshan district in Shenzhen, southern China.

According to labour groups in Hong Kong who have been following the case, the workers at the factory were accused by company management of trying to form an illegal trade union.

Some workers’ representatives were sacked and several of them were beaten up by unidentified people after they tried to return to work at the factory. The situation immediately attracted widespread attention on Chinese social media and many people came out to support the workers, including student groups from leading Chinese universities.

Other protesters were briefly detained and questioned by the police after they demonstrated outside the police station in support of the detained individuals.

Patrick Poon, China Researcher at Amnesty International, said:

“The detention of the workers and their supporters is deplorable. The workers’ demand to form a union of their choice to protect their rights is entirely legitimate.

“Instead of trying to silence the protesters, the authorities should address the underlying allegations of abusive working conditions and respect the workers’ right to freedom of association. 

“The charges against many of those detained by police are nothing more than an attempt to restrict their rights of freedom of expression, peaceful assembly and association.

“All those involved in the protest should be released immediately and unconditionally unless there is evidence that internationally recognised crimes were committed.”

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