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Red Balloon Editor: The suppression against Guangdong Labour NGO hit hard. Until now 25 Labour NGO leaders and workers were interrogated. Three of them were criminally detained. They were He Xiaobo, Zhang Feiyang and Zhu Xiaomei. How did they engage labour movement? And achieved what they did today? In the road to Weiquan (rights defending), their devotion and persistence were both amazing and heartbreaking
《He Xiaobo–Nanfeiyan Social Service Centre》
Everything started in 2006, when He Xiaobo, the person-in-charge of the Foshan-based Nanfeiyan Social Service Centre, lost 3 fingers on his left hand in a work injury. In the course of fighting for his legal rights, the thought of establishing a NGO concerning labour rights emerged, which entails his bonding with the development of labour NGOs in China later on.
Nanfeiyan is the first civil organisation to provide services for workers in Foshan. Its operation began in 2007, and was formally registered at the municipal-level Bureau of Civil Affairs in 2012. Over the years, more than 30,000 workers injured at work have been approached and trained in labour-related laws and regulations. Almost 10,000 occupationally-injured workers claimed for their legally-abided compensation successfully. Both Nanfeiyan and He Xiaobo himself have been awarded and honoured by local governments for their charitable services.
On the Labour Day on 1st May 2015, Nanfeiyan was supposed to launch a photo exhibition for occupationally-injured workers, which was co-curated with Dongguan Candlelight Public Interest Centre and the Southern Metropolis Daily, but the exhibition was suspended right before the inauguration. Shortly afterwards, Nanfeiyan received a “bare pass” in the annual audit of the municipal Bureau of Civil Affairs. It would face the risk of being “lawfully” closed down if receiving a “bare pass” for 2 consecutive years.
In August 2015, two offices of Nanfeiyan in Shunde and Zumiao, Foshan were forcefully shut down. Ongoing projects outsourced by the government were terminated, and the organisational account was reaudited. As mentioned by Xiaobo in an interview, “the slow progress of social change is frustrating, but we can’t simply criticise, whine or even escape. We should do something substantial to change ourselves at least, if not the society as a whole.”
“Maybe you don’t really find this photo of me particularly good, but I am very satisfied with it, since it is taken by the chief photographer of the Southern Metropolis Daily, and will be published in our upcoming photo collection of occupationally-injured workers. This is my story, so is the story of many other workers. Assisted by visual effects, we hope to raise public awareness in the prevention of work injuries.”