By Sue-Lin Wong and Christian Shepherd
SHENZHEN/BEIJING (Reuters) – Some Chinese student activists detained after a raid last week have been escorted back to their hometowns by police and their parents, labour activists said on Tuesday.
Police in riot gear stormed an apartment in the southern Chinese city of Huizhou on Friday where the students and other activists were staying while they supported factory workers seeking to form a union.
Labour activism is viewed as a challenge by the ruling Communist Party, which opposes independent unions and punishes protesters.
The Jasic Workers Support Group said on its website that 50 people were staying at the apartment at the time of the raid.
Protests broke out in the southern province of Guangdong early last month after workers at Jasic International, a welding machinery firm, were fired when they tried to form a union.
About 50 labour activists, most of them students, travelled to Guangdong to back the workers.
The released students were sent home separately without their telephones and were under surveillance, labour activists said. It was not clear how many were sent home.
Authorities raided and detained supporters of the labour movement in other parts of the country at the same time last Friday, said Zhang Shengye, a graduate of Peking University who was escorted back to his hometown on Friday, in a statement posted on the Jasic website.
“My sorrow will not lower my spirits, my anger will not cause me to lose reason, being under surveillance will not intimidate me into surrendering,” Zhang wrote.
The students’ telephones, computers, hard drives and other electronic gadgets were in the possession of police, Zhang said in his post.
Calls to the police in the area went unanswered.
On July 27, police detained 29 people, including former Jasic workers, their families and supporters. Fourteen people remain in detention.
Three Jasic workers who were initially released on bail after a week in detention were detained again after Friday’s raid, a labour activist said on Tuesday.
Several of the activists detained in Friday’s raid are students or recent graduates from China’s top universities and have been active in a range of social justice issues, according to activists and the group supporting the workers, which posted information on its website.
Yue Xin, a Peking University graduate and activist in the Jasic case, was among those detained on Friday, the sources said. Yue gained prominence in April when she pressed the university to make public an investigation into a decades-old rape and suicide case.
Two others detained in Friday’s raid – Xu Zhongliang and Zheng Yongming – had been detained in Guangzhou last November after participating in a reading group to improve the plight of factory workers.
Another activist, Gu Jiayue, was detained in Beijing early on Friday, the sources said.
Gu was among 20 students, activists and two worker representatives from Jasic who submitted letters of petition to the All-China Federations of Trade Unions and the All-China Women’s Federation last week.
Gu and a colleague, Yang Xiaoqiang, have contributed to the online Pioneer Magazine launched by recent graduates in April.
Song Yangbiao, a freelance journalist, said Yang was also in detention. Song told Reuters he was detained for 10 hours on Friday in his hometown in the eastern province of Jiangsu before being released.
Shang Kai, editor of Red Reference news, a publication that supports students and factory workers, was also detained on Friday in Beijing, after 20 police from Guangdong province raided the paper’s offices, the publication said in a statement.
(Reporting by Sue-Lin Wong in SHENZHEN and Christian Shepherd in BEIJING; Editing by Darren Schuettler)