Wednesday, 19 December, 2018

China frees 3 activists who probed Ivanka Trump brand's shoe supplier

Ivanka Trump's labour report blacklists China, where her clothes are made Workers allege abuse while making Ivanka Trump shoes
Kenny Thornton | 28 June, 2017, 23:31

Three chinese activists arrested in may as they were investigating the working conditions in factories producing shoes for the line Ivanka Trump have been released on bail, announced on Wednesday that the association China Labor Watch.

On June 5, the U.S. State Department called for the immediate release of the three activists. It is extremely rare for individuals to be freed on bail if they had been criminally detained, a possible sign that they won't be formally charged and put on trial.

The three workers are the first people with direct knowledge of conditions at the Ganzhou factory to speak with the media. "Whether they are prosecuted depends on how they behave". But he was unwilling to talk much. "I just want to spend some time with my family", Hua told The Associated Press.

Abigail Klem, the president of the Ivanka Trump brand, said earlier this month that its products have not been produced at the factory in question since March, and that licensees are "required to operate within strict social compliance regulations".

Two of the men - Li Zhao and Hua Haifeng - worked undercover in the giant Dongguan factory of Huajian International, a Chinese company that claims to make shoes worn by one in every 10 women in the United States. The labor group said two were taken away from a hotel room while the third was detained by customs officials in the southern city of Shenzhen while en route to Hong Kong.

"To be released on bail to await trial is a clause used in cases where the crimes are not serious and the suspects not unsafe", said Ai, speaking generally of such cases.

"I think this is face saving way to get rid of the case", Cohen said. His group says pay can be as low as a dollar an hour, in violation of China's labor laws.

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The advocacy group says it has documentation of worker abuse, and says it sent letters to Ivanka Trump and her brand, as well as several other companies that have used the factories. The low point, however, was when a manager hit a worker on the head with a high heel, drawing blood.

They are accused of using bugging and eavesdropping devices during the investigation.

Ivanka Trump's prominence meant she should be able to check on her suppliers and influence them, Li Qiang, executive director of China Labor Watch, said in the statement.

Ivanka Trump's brand has declined to comment on the allegations or the detentions.

China has strengthened considerably since 2015 its treatment of the activists of the rights of workers, in a country that prohibits independent trade union activity.

As he left the police station Wednesday, Hua was surrounded by family members.

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