The Guangzhou authorities are citing “national security” concerns in order to prevent lawyers from seeing Zeng Feiyang (see photo below) and other detained labour activists.
There are currently eight activists who are believed to be detained, either formally or under some kind of house arrest. In addition to Zeng Feiyang; He Xiaobo, Zhu Xiaomei, Deng Xiaoming and Tang Jian are being formally held in detention centres in Guangdong, Peng Jiayong and Meng Han are also believed to be in detention, while Chen Huihai is being held at an unspecified location.
Zeng Feiyang, the director of the Panyu Workers’ Centre, was formally detained on 4 December on suspicion of “gathering a crowd to disturb social order.”
Zeng’s lawyer, Cheng Zhunqiang, attempted to visit his client at the Guangzhou No. 1 Detention Centre on Wednesday morning but was barred by the police officers on duty. They claimed the Panyu District Public Security Bureau (the unit responsible for Zeng’s case) had ordered them to refuse the visit.
When Cheng pointed out that the police had no right to ban lawyers from seeing their clients, the police changed their tune and said Zeng’s case was a matter of national security. Cheng later wrote that he told the police:
How can the unit in charge of the case tell you what to do? It is illegal. You, as civil servants, have an obligation to disregard illegal orders. You despise the law and you despise the lawyers. Your livelihood depends on the rule of law, and yet you casually forfeit your rights and allow others to dictate to you.
After hours of protesting, a senior officer named Liu sat down with Cheng and reportedly told him:
What you have been saying is all right but we still cannot let you meet with Zeng. There are some confidential files in his case which you cannot see. You have two options now: negotiate with the Panyu District Public Security Bureau or file a complaint to our supervisors.
All the lawyers for those activists who are confirmed as being in detention have encountered similar obstacles. However, they are determined to carry on and find a way to visit their clients.
Meanwhile, pressure is building from the international trade union movement, international human rights organizations and labour groups and unions in Hong Kong to immediately release all the detained labour activists in Guangdong.
Around 80 supporters gather outside the Central Government Liaison Office in Hong Kong on 10 December to protest the detention of labour activists in Guangdong.
To add your support, please sign the petition initiated by the Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions and Globalization Monitor, which has already been signed by nearly 50 organizations and 200 individuals.