Shenzhen withdraws petition ban, apologies

By Yan Weijue (
Updated: 2011-05-10 14:28
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An order banning migrant workers from claiming unpaid back pay has been revoked and local government bosses have apologized for any offence caused.

The new policy issued 12 days ago, which virtually prohibits migrant workers in Shenzhen from protesting unfair treatment, also threatened to bring criminal charges against those who organize collective protests or petitions.

The ban, which was to take effect from May 1 to September 30, was part of efforts by planning chiefs in the economic hub of South China to safeguard the city before the 26th Universiade in August.

But on Monday the Bureau of Housing and Urban-Rural Development apologized for the improper wording of the original document after being engulfed by a wave of criticism from across the whole nation.

"We released the notice in a bid to protect the rights of migrant workers, as well as the social stability," said a spokesman for the bureau Monday at a press conference on the withdrawal of the restriction order. "By forbidding the act of collective petition, we hope migrant workers claim their right in a legal way, lest they are misled by some law-breakers."

"We're sorry for the misinterpretation it created. The notice will be taken back and revised, " he added.

The restriction order would have added to a list of controversial measures implemented by Shenzhen authorities in the past month.

On April 10, the police claimed to have expelled up to 80,000 people who may pose a danger to public security around the city. Two days later, a whistleblower said was asked not to dial China's emergency 110 number during Universade period. This follows the government orders that citizens should register when purchasing or selling knives, at the same time, goods that are explosive, eroding, or radioactive were banned from being transferred within the city.