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Forced to close, NGOs win sympathy

By Deng Jingyin Source:Global Times Published: 2012-9-10 1:10:03

Ten Shenzhen-based NGOs that have been forced to close their doors in recent months have won the sympathy of a group of scholars and lawyers who are urging authorities in Guangdong Province to support the organizations dedicated to helping migrant workers.

Twenty scholars from universities and media organizations from the Chinese mainland and Hong Kong sent open letters Sunday to both the Guangdong provincial government and the Shenzhen municipal government, urging them to stop pushing out these NGOs.

Wang Jiangsong, lead author of the letter and a Beijing-based labor scholar from the China Institute of Industrial Relations, told the Global Times Sunday that the NGOs have a lot of sympathy from society at large.

Wang said that the Shenzhen government is contravening the province's pledge in July to be the mainland's first to ease registration requirements for NGOs, which in many jurisdictions are seen as overly stringent.

According to the letter, several Shenzhen-based labor NGOs, including the Spring Breeze Labor Disputes Service Centre, Xiaoxiaocao Advisory Center and Yuandian Worker Service Center, have been evicted from their offices or forced to move under threats of violence since February, after their landlords broke their lease agreements without cause.

"These organizations offer services to migrant workers, such as legal aid, entertainment, work safety training and settling labor conflicts," Wang said.

"The government should encourage their development as they take on part of the government's social responsibilities and play an active role in alleviating social disputes," he added.

Shouqianshou Worker Service Center in Shenzhen's Bao'an district was forced to close its doors Sunday after the landlord cut off the water and power supply.

The landlord told the center's staff a week ago that they must leave and on Sunday the landlord and a group of men, said to be his relatives, asked them to leave by the afternoon, a center staffer told the Global Times Sunday.

"We signed a two-year rental agreement that doesn't expire until next June. But the landlord said he was under some pressure to get us to leave," Wang Baoyu, a project manager of the service center, told the Global Times.

Wang said the authorities have conducted more frequent random inspections of the facilities over the last three months, adding that officials had sometimes come four times a week.

According to Wang, one day last month, three departments conducted checks on his office on the same day.

Both the Shenzhen municipal government and Guangdong provincial government could not be reached Sunday for comment.

"I have been a volunteer at this center since I just arrived in the city three years ago. It gave me a lot of helpful advice on labor disputes, occupational diseases and others," a migrant worker surnamed Zuo, who works in a Shenzhen factory, told the Global Times Sunday.

"Please don't shut it down," Zuo added.

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