40 students are missing in China after riot police stormed their apartment to stop them from staging a protest

China's riot police clash with student activists in a video purported to be from Huizhou on Friday morning.

caption
China’s riot police clash with student activists in a video purported to be from Huizhou on Friday morning.
source
Sue-Lin Wong/Twitter

  • A video shows Chinese riot police bursting into an apartment in southern China to stop student activists from protesting the next day.
  • The students had traveled from across the country to support workersfired and arrested for trying to organize a labor union, Reuters reported.
  • They had been staying in an apartment in Huizhou to organize their efforts, the news agency said.
  • They have not been seen since the police stormed the apartment, according to other activists following the case.
  • The Chinese Communist Party opposes labor activism, unions, and grassroots protests.
  • Authorities had reportedly also been asking the students’ parents and universities to dissuade them from protesting.

Around forty student activists have gone missing after riot police stormed an apartment to stop them from staging a protest, other Chinese activists said on Friday.

The students had been staying in Huizhou, southern China, to support a widespread protest in solidarity with factory workers seeking to form a labor union, Reuters reported.

Video footage posted on Friday showed riot police, wearing helmets and carrying shields, burst into the apartment and scuffle with the students, who can be heard shouting.

Reuters said it couldn’t independently verify the video, but other labor activists in China have confirmed it on Twitter.

Watch it below:

The episode, which took place around 5 a.m. local time on Friday, ended with the police arresting everybody in the flat, according to a statement tweeted on Friday by an activist group dedicated to those students.

It’s not clear what has happened to the people in the video. Reuters said that neither local police nor five activists who had been staying at the apartment answered their calls. Other labor activists following the case also said they hadn’t been able to contact the students.

Student activists pictured in an apartment in Huizhou, China, on Thursday. Police burst into this apartment on Friday, and the students' whereabouts are not known.

caption
Student activists pictured in an apartment in Huizhou, China, on Thursday. Police burst into this apartment on Friday, and the students’ whereabouts are not known.
source
Sue-Lin Wong/Reuters

The student activists in the Huizhou apartment on Thursday.

caption
The student activists in the Huizhou apartment on Thursday.
source
Sue-Lin Wong/Reuters

The missing students had been demonstrating in support of workers at Jasic Technology, a welding machinery company in Shenzhen. The workers had been fired and arrested for their attempts to form a labor union. At least 30 of Jasic’s workers were detained for their efforts, the Financial Times reported earlier this month.

Students across China’s universities also started publishing online petitions in support of the workers, the FT said. Many of them saw their petitions censored and their email addresses suspended.

The video below shows students protesting in solidarity with the workers while holding images of Mao Zedong in Beijing. One of them accused the Chinese state of locking up the workers “because they are scared.”

China’s efforts to clamp down on these protests

The Chinese Communist Party opposes labor activism and independent unions. It also disapproves of grassroots protests, as they are seen to undermine the party and disrupt the country’s stability.

The state had been trying hard to clamp down on the students’ protests for days, Reuters reported.

Authorities flew many of the activists’ parents to Guangdong, a city near Huizhou and Shenzhen, housed them in hotels, and gave “training sessions” on how to raise their children, Reuters reported, citing some of the students.

The sessions included lecturing the parents on what to text their children, and arranging for the parents to show up at various places where their children were, such as the Huizhou apartment and shopping streets, Reuters said.

The Ministry of Education also told the students’ universities to tell the students not to stage the protests, the news agency said, citing the students.

The universities sent texts to the students citing reasons such as an impending typhoon and the risk of being recruited into a pyramid scheme as reasons why they shouldn’t go. The ministry did not respond to Reuters’ request for comment.