Meng Han Sentenced
On 3 November, Meng Han, the last of the labour activists detained in the crackdown of December 2015, was found guilty and sentenced to twenty-one months in jail by the Panyu district court in Guangzhou. While detained, Meng Han was denied access to his lawyer, and his parents were repeatedly harassed in their apartment by unidentified men. After the announcement of the sentence, friends and fellow activists held a fundraising initiative to collect money to support Meng Han’s living expenses while in jail, and about thirty unionists and labour rights groups in Hong Kong organised a protest outside the Hong Kong China Liason Office demanding his immediate release. Days before the trial, the International Labour Organisation’s Committee on Freedom of Association released its interim report in response to a complaint launched by the International Trade Union Confederation. In it, the Chinese government was criticised for its treatment of labour activists, who ‘appear to have been arrested, detained and charged for being involved in a labour dispute and considers that the detentions of persons connected with their activities in defense of the interest of workers constitutes a serious interference with civil liberties in general and with trade union rights in particular.’ Labour NGOs all over the country are under increasing pressure. In Beijing, the Migrant Workers’ Home, a historic labour NGO that focuses on cultural activities for migrants, is facing eviction after more than ten years. The enforcement of China’s Foreign NGO Management Law in January 2017 will make it increasingly hard for NGOs to gain access to vital financial support from abroad.