What the students have to say to you
While Sun Ting Ting was serving her 28 days in prison, she wrote:
“In serving the underprivileged, I came to realize that public interest work is the best way to help underprivileged workers and peasants at the bottom of society to live with dignity.
“I can see that in this world, exploitation and oppression have never disappeared.”
Students like Sun should be supported, not arrested, for their commitment to social justice.
Zhang Yun Fan, another one of the arrested students, has long been committed to supporting workers’ rights: in 2015, he mobilised 61 students from 19 university departments to investigate and expose the labour exploitation being faced by the university’s cleaning, construction and service staff. This report was ground-breaking in shifting public awareness on the labour rights of service staff, but also marked the beginning of years of intimidation directed towards Zhang. He says, “reading groups and volunteer activities have spared my life the monotony caused by poverty”.
I swallowed this industrial sewage, these unemployment documents
Youth stooped at machines die before their time
I swallowed the hustle and the destitution
Swallowed pedestrian bridges, life covered in rust
I can’t swallow any more
All that I’ve swallowed is now gushing out of my throat
Unfurling on the land of my ancestors
Into a disgraceful poem.
– Student Y