An activist was arrested by Chinese police after investigating labor abuses at Chinese factories.
Deng Guilian’s husband Hua Haifeng worked for China Labor Watch, a New York nonprofit that has worked to expose labor abuses for 17 years.
He was in the middle of investigating Huajian Group factories, which has made millions of pairs of shoes for export.
Hua and his colleagues were ready to publish a report alleging low pay, excessive overtime, crude verbal abuse, and possible misuse of student labor.
The company denies the allegations.
Deng had been communicating regularly with Hua via phone. Then, he suddenly went quiet on May 30.
Police came to Deng’s house and confirmed her husband’s arrest. Hua and his colleagues had been arrested on suspicion of making illegal recordings and taking illegal photographs.
“I was terrified, I panicked and felt really helpless. I really didn’t know what to do to handle this,” said Deng.
Deng immediately made the trip to Guangzhou to search for him. There, she hired a lawyer.
“He was put to sleep next to the toilet and people go to pee all night, which has made him feel terrible. Also, no one in the same cell is allowed to speak to him,” she said.
She tried telling her story to foreign media, but police tried to interfere and threatened her family members.
“[They said] ‘Do not do any interviews (with the media), you see, foreign media are all calling you, which proves what your husband did is pretty serious, do not let your husband’s (crime) turn into something like leaking national secrets. They spoke so seriously. Anyway, I don’t understand, but it was just terrifying,” said Deng.
The mother of two believes her husband and herself have not broken the law.
“I believe what he has done is meaningful because it has helped a lot of people. I know about him and I saw many people around him being helped. So I have always supported his work and always believed that he is doing good things, which means a lot,” she said.
As of June 8, Hua still has not been released. Deng heads home with her son to an uncertain future.