Police crackdown on 10 labour activists across China, say rights group
A Chinese labour rights group on Saturday said at least ten of its supporters were detained by police in several cities across the country, in the latest apparent crackdown against its activists.
Student-led activism from China's top universities has surged in recent years, as young college students rally behind labour rights and unions despite pressure from universities and police.
The Jasic Workers Solidarity group, which supports workers at welding machinery firm Jasic Technology, said the activists were detained by police on Friday night.
Five were graduates of Peking University -- one of the country's top-ranked institutions.
One of the graduates, Zhang Shengye, was "kidnapped" on the school campus, the group alleged in its statement.
An eyewitness and Peking University student claimed that more than ten people in dark-coloured clothing beat Zhang before dragging him into a black car.
"They hit him hard and quickly got Zhang under control," he told AFP, requesting anonymity.
A few other students who were passing by were also beaten, he added. They were forced to the ground and stopped from taking photos or speaking.
"Peking University acquiesced to the kidnapping -- this is another crime universities have committed against progressive students and the leftwing community," said the Jasic Workers Solidarity group.
In addition to Zhang, four other Peking University graduates went missing Friday after police raided homes in Beijing, Shanghai, and Guangzhou, stated the group.
In Shenzhen, a city in southern Guangdong province, two people who operated a non-profit for young workers, as well as members of their staff, were taken by police as well, the group said.
Three workers who were part of the solidarity group, plus an unspecified number of activists in Guangdong province, also disappeared in the police sweep, it said.
AFP could not independently verify the labour group's claims.
Police in Beijing, Guangzhou, Shenzhen, and Shanghai did not immediately respond to AFP's request for comment.
In August, a police raid swept up student activists in Guangdong province, according to the official website of the Jasic Workers Solidarity group, who said police beat students and confiscated their phones.
Yue Xin, a Peking University student who co-authored a petition demanding details about a probe into allegations of sexual abuse at the school, has not been heard from since she was detained in the August raid.
Two students from Renmin University and Peking University were also taken away by police for several hours Friday after taking photos in front of an Apple store in Beijing.
The students -- a group of ten in total -- were protesting the alleged exploitation of workers at an Apple Watch factory in southwestern China.
Apple said it was investigating the claims.
(With inputs from agencies.)