Mr Li Keqiang,
Prime Minister of the People’s Republic of China,
The State Council of the People’s Republic of China
No. 8, Yuetan South Street, Xicheng District, Beijing
Peoples’ Republic of China 100017
Dear Prime Minister Li,
I am William Gomes, Human rights defender and Freelance Journalist.
I am writing to you and your government to strongly condemn the arrests and criminal detentions of some 40 workers, labour rights activists, and their supporters from 2018 to 2019.
In the summer of 2018, workers from Jasic Technology, a welding equipment manufacturing factory in Southern China, were dismissed by the company for organising their trade union and were later criminally detained by government officials on charges of “Gathering a Crowd to Disturb Social Order”. As of today, more than 40 people are still under criminal detention, including worker, while many of them are denied access to lawyers and contact with their families.
I want to express our deep concern to their current conditions and query the legitimacy of their respective arrests, as we deem such arbitrary arrests, detention and subsequent treatment are blatant violations of their basic labour and civil rights.
The right to freedom of association is protected by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (Article 20). And according to Article 2 of the International Labour Organization Convention No. 87, workers shall have the right to establish and to join organisations of their choosing without previous authorisation. As a member of the United Nations and ILO, the People’s Republic of China is obliged to respect and observe the basic principles of freedom of association. Regrettably, your government’s recent exercise of state power to suppress the workers as mentioned above to organise their union by the law and instructions from the upper-level union demonstrated a contrary to such principles. Moreover, we regard Article 9, 10, & 11 of the 1992 China Trade Union Law is in itself a violation of freedom of association. Under such stipulations, trade unions are impossible to be organised independently by the principles as laid down by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and ILO Convention No. 87.
Under such circumstances, we would like to call on the Chinese Government to:
1. Immediately release and drop charges against all workers, labour rights activists, and their supporters who are criminally detained for exercising their fundamental rights to freedom of association;
2. Put an end to the repression and harassment of all labour rights activists and their supporters;
3. Bring all relevant laws of the country in line with international standards and comply with the ILO fundamental principles of freedom of association.