We print here an urgent update about repression faced by Jasic workers forming a union and their student supporters.

By 24 January 2019, three workers — Mi Jiuping, Yu Juncong, and Liu Penghua — who exercised their legal rights to set up a union at Jasic Technology, along with former Jasic worker Li Zhan, had been detained for 142 days. Denied visits by lawyers and families, they remain in custody in Shenzhen, charged with gathering a crowd to disrupt social order.

Jasic Workers Support Group, comprising mainly university students and recent graduates across China, has called for the release of detained workers and supporters, garnering attention at home and abroad. Amid a deepening clampdown, Zhan Zhenzhen, a 21-year-old student of the Peking University, was arrested on 2 January. He was later expelled from the university.

It is equally appalling when four recent graduates from three universities—Shen Mengyu, Yue Xin, Gu Jiayue, and Zheng Yongming—were forced to “confess” on camera their participation in an “illegal organization” to campaign for workers’ rights. No one knows their whereabouts since last August. The video, which is hidden from public circulation, does not disclose the location of filming.

On 21 January, hours after posting an open statement accusing police of recording the 30-minute forced video confessions, seven students who had recently watched the video under the escort of officials were arrested. They included four students and two graduates of the Peking University and one student of the Renmin University of China.

Thus far pressure from the above has been escalating. This follows forcible restructuring, or eventual shutdown, of the Marxist student organizations at the Peking University, Renmin University, University of Science and Technology Beijing, and Nanjing University. At the same time, the Communist Youth League hailed the other “Marxist” groups to strengthen discipline and loyalty towards the Party-state. Students deemed trouble-making were frequently interrogated, surveilled, and restricted over daily communications. Such systemic attacks have in effect turned the campuses into highly guarded prisons.  

Evidence suggests that the coordinated months-long national crackdown on Jasic mobilization—in Shenzhen (Guangdong province), Guangzhou (Guangdong province), Beijing, Shanghai, Wuhan (Hubei province), and Changsha (Hunan province)—is among the hardest ones in contemporary Chinese history.

P.S. On 20 January 2019, the authorities detained five veteran labor activists Zhang Zhiru (founder of Shenzhen-based Spring Breeze Labour Disputes Service Center), Jian Hui (staff member of Spring Breeze), He Yuancheng (former editor of the Collective Bargaining Forum), Song Jiahui (worker activist), and Wu Guijun (worker activist). The reason for the detention is unclear.

A fifty-five person name list (updated as of 24 January 2019) shows the detained Jasic workers, student activists, worker supporters, university security officers, organizers from two grassroots organizations, editors from twoleft-wing media websites, as well as two local union officials.