China - Evidence of forced “confession” emerges

On 29 January 2019, the Jasic Workers Support Group (JWSG) released an audio clip and transcript of a video showing detained members of the JWSG supposedly “confessing”. The Chinese government had reportedly been forcing student activists to watch it.

The video referred to events that began in July 2018 when workers demanding the establishment of a trade union at the Jasic Technology factory in Shenzhen were arrested. A wave of protests followed, to which the authorities responded with a crackdown on labour activism. More than 40 workers and their supporters were detained in relation to the Jasic dispute, while the student and civil society groups supporting the Jasic workers were continually harassed by the authorities. By the time of the video’s release, dozens of workers, students, trade unionists and civil society activists were still in detention.

According to the video transcripts, Gu Jiayue, Zheng Yongming, Shen Mengyu and Yue Xin were filmed to confess in front of the camera. They stated that they had taken collective action to force the government and the employer to agree or give in to workers’ demands, which led to a severely negative impact on state security. They “admitted” that they were ignorant about China, had put “incorrect” information online and misled an uninformed public to take part in protests, without knowing all the “facts” themselves. They also “acknowledged” that their actions helped “foreign forces with their own agenda” to defame China, which violated their original intention to help workers safeguard their rights.

As the Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions (HKCTU) pointed out, the genuineness of such “confessions” remains questionable, particularly given the language used. Furthermore, in the video, workers’ collective action is repeatedly emphasised as a threat to state security and considered to be illegal.

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