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Abgeschlossen am 26. April 2019

Labour activist detained without lawyer

AI-Index: ASA 17/0115/2019

Wei Zhili, an editor of «New Generation» (xinshengdai) a website which monitors and reports on internal migrant workers in China, was taken away by police from his home in Shenzhen on 20 March 2019. No direct contact has been made with him since his arrest and, without access to a lawyer of his choice, he is at risk of torture and other ill-treatment.


Wei Zhili is an editor of «New Generation» (xinshengdai), a website on monitoring and reporting the situation of rural migrant workers in China. New Generation also uses other mainland Chinese social media platforms to disseminate information about employment and labour laws and occupational safety and health. A lot of his recent work was focused on the plight of the workers from Hunan province who contracted silicosis due to lack of occupational health safety protection in the factories.

Wei Zhili has been committed to labour rights and feminist issues since he graduated from university in 2001. Upon his university graduation, he worked in Hand-in-Hand Workers’ Activity Centre (手牵手工友活动室) in Shenzhen providing legal advice, representation and organizing support to workers. A blog by Tian Yu, a Foxconn suicide survivor, recalled that Wei Zhili was so attentive and kind and that he and a group of students had supported and accompanied her and her family to get through the hardest time of her life.

Wei Zhili was also previously threatened by police about his work on labour issues. In that incident, police reportedly told him and other labour activists that labour activism is «disturbing social order» and «speaking for workers is anti-Communist and counter-revolution».

Activists and human rights defenders continue to be systematically subjected to monitoring, harassment, intimidation, arrest and detention. Police detain an increasing number of human rights defenders outside of formal detention facilities, sometimes without access to a lawyer for long periods, exposing the detainees to the risk of torture and other ill-treatment.

Since July 2018, China has arbitrarily detained and questioned dozens of student organisers, labour rights activists and factory workers in at least five cities in what appears to be intensified repression against the emerging labour movement in the country.

Over the years, China has made further efforts to reinforce its already oppressive internet censorship architecture. Thousands of websites and social media services are forced to censor their content, while some platforms such as Facebook, Instagram and Twitter are blocked. In addition, a number of citizen journalists and directors of local news outlets that publicise articles and information about human rights incidents in China have been detained and imprisoned.

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