Fu Changguo 付常国Comments Off on Fu Changguo 付常国
Fu Changguo 付常国
Criminal charge: Gathering a crowd to disturb public order
Length of Punishment: N/A
Trial Date: N/A
Sentencing Date: N/A
Dates of Detention/Arrest: August 10, 2018 (detention); September 8, 2018 (formal arrest)
Place of Incarceration: Current location unknown; previously detained at Shenzhen City No. 2 Detention Center
Fu Changguo, a staff member with Shenzhen Dagongzhe Migrant Workers Center (DGZ), an NGO, was detained in August 2018, along with the group’s legal representative, Huang Qingnan (黄庆南). The police action in Shenzhen was tied to ongoing labor unrest at a Jasic Technology plant. Chinese state media portrayed Fu as a “leader” of the workers’ protests and claiming the movement was orchestrated by an “illegal” NGO—meaning DGZ—that was receiving foreign funding, a reference to Worker Empowerment, a Hong Kong-based group. Before detaining Fu, police summoned him several times from late July 2018, questioning Fu about the Jasic protests and telling him not to support the plant’s workers. Fu was initially held on a charge of “picking quarrels and provoking trouble,” but police switched it in September, to “gathering a crowd to disturb public order,” when he was formally arrested. While keeping Fu in custody, police released Huang on bail in September.
Worker Empowerment confirmed in a statement after Fu was detained that it had collaborated with DGZ (深圳打工者中心) in the past, but the group said it had not given support to Jasic workers related to the strike. A September statement from both organizations rejected the accusation that Fu was involved in organizing workers or their supporters; they instead asserted that Fu had engaged in non-criminal acts of free expression in his capacity as DGZ’s labor law consultant, by circulating news about the protests and links to fundraising sites set up by workers, and once visiting a protest outside the Jasic factory to observe.
Fu is among more than 50 individuals detained, disappeared, or put under house arrest between July 2018 and January 2019 who were accused of participating in or aiding the Jasic labor movement. Jasic workers had collectively sought better working conditions starting in May 2018, advocacy that led to the firing of several factory workers. Besides activists and dismissed workers, others deprived of their liberty in the mass police action included university students and graduates from prestigious Chinese universities who had united under the name Jasic Workers’ Solidarity Group. The suppression around the Jasic protests occurred during a surge of labor unrest in Shenzhen and other parts of southern China, the country’s industrial hub, as workers at several companies went on strike and protested labor conditions.
Fu’s whereabouts have been unknown since his formal arrest was reported in September 2018. Though he was initially detained at Shenzhen City No. 2 Detention Center, authorities at the facility returned money that Fu’s family member had deposited there on February 1 and February 6, 2019, claiming there was no person of that name in the center. In May, police called his family to say he had been put under “residential surveillance at a designated location” but they never received a written notice. On July 25, the family were required to sign a notice that said the period in RSDL had ended, but he has still not been released and his family do not know where he is.
During his detention, Fu has been deprived of the right to access legal counsel of his or his family’s choosing. Fu has had three different lawyers, but all have withdrawn from the case. The first lawyer received a phone call from the Guangdong Province Judicial Bureau on August 23, 2018, requesting the lawyer stop representing Fu. The second lawyer quit out of fear in September 2018. The third lawyer was informed in a phone call from Shenzhen police on September 18, 2018, that Fu had been formally arrested on September 8; he was allowed to meet Fu once on September 20 but was denied further meetings. This lawyer withdrew from the case in November, and informed Fu’s sister that a legal aid lawyer would be provided.
On December 2, 2018, the elder sister of Fu Changguo submitted an application requesting Fu be released on “bail pending investigation” to the Pingshan District Public Security Bureau in Shenzhen. Police rejected the application later that month, responding that Fu “may destroy or fabricate evidence,” which they said would constitute interference with witness testimony, and that releasing him on bail may lead to “social harm.” Fu’s family had submitted the application in December in part since his mother was seriously ill. She ultimately passed away on January 10, 2019; Fu was not allowed to see her before she died or attend her funeral.
Born on October 6, 1985, Fu Changguo is originally from Chenzhou City, Hunan Province, and moved to southern China with his father and sister, who went to work in Qingyuan City, where Fu attended high school. After graduating, Fu worked in a factory, where he experienced firsthand the inhumane conditions faced by laborers in the industrial sector, inspiring him to advocate for labor rights. He went on to attend Nanchang University and joined Shenzhen Dagongzhe Migrant Workers as a staff member in November 2015. Long before Fu’s detention, he and his colleagues had faced obstacles for advocating for labor rights and assisting migrant workers. For example, government authorities have blocked DGZ from registering as a social organization, which is required under Chinese law for the group to operate legally.