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Permanent Crackdown on Student and Worker Activist

The second quarter of 2019 once again saw heightened repression of Chinese student and worker activists—a further intensification of the crackdown that began in July 2018. As Xi Jinping hailed the nationalist legacy of the May Fourth Movement, calling on the Chinese youth to love their country and follow the leadership of the Communist Party, six more Marxist university students who were planning to celebrate the International Labour Day by working alongside workers disappeared just before May First. The crackdown also extended to members of social worker and community organisations engaging with labour and migration issues. Li Dajun, Liang Zicun, Li Changjiang, and Tong Feifei—staff members of various NGOs based in Beijing, Guangzhou, and Shenzhen—disappeared in May along with Wuqiong Wenqian, former editor-in-chief of the left wing media site Groundbreaking (破土) and volunteer at Tootopia (土逗公社). In spite of this unending repression, there has been some pushback. In April, one hundred Chinese workers suffering from silicosis signed a petition in which they demanded the release of three activists arrested in March who had assisted them in the past. Among the three arrested is Wei Zhili, whose wife Zheng Churan—herself a feminist activist who was detained for her advocacy work in 2015—has mounted a public campaign to secure the release of her husband by penning articles, speaking to the media, and inviting supporters to run ten thousand kilometres with her until Wei’s release. Few of the activists arrested since July 2018 have stood trial: most have either remained under detention or have been released under residential surveillance. KL

(Sources: CNN 1; CNN 2; Hong Kong Free Press; SCMP)

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