China - Arrest of labour activists investigating shoe factory

Three labour activists were arrested on 28 May 2017 for investigating working conditions at shoe factories.
Hua Haifeng and Li Zhao worked covertly at a shoe factory in the city of Dongguan, in Guangdong province, owned by the Huajian Group, which makes shoes for Western brands, including those bearing the Ivanka Trump label. During their time there they found evidence of workers’ rights abuses at the factory including pay below minimum wage, verbal abuse of workers and the use of derogatory language towards female employees. The third investigator, Su Heng, had worked at a related factory in the city of Ganzhou in Jiangxi, which also produced Ivanka Trump-branded shoes.
The three activists were working with the NGO China Labour Watch. The arrests were the first in the organisation’s 17-year history. Hua Haifeg suspects that the fact that Ivanka Trump-branded shoes were made at the factory may have had something to do with their detention, although he said before he arrived at the factory, he didn’t even know Ivanka had a clothing brand.
Hua Haifeng was interrogated in marathon sessions every other day for a month, during which police repeatedly asked him for details of his investigation. During his detention police also searched his home and questioned his wife.
All three were released on bail on 28 June pending trial.

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