Activists demand China release Taiwanese human rights worker

Lee Ming-The, 43, was arrested March 19, 2017 when he entered Guangdong Province from Macau.

Taipei, Nov. 28 (CNA) Local and Tibetan activists demanded Wednesday the release of Taiwanese human rights worker Lee Ming-che (李明哲) who was sentenced a year ago today by a court in China for promoting democracy.

“On behalf of the Tibetan Youth Congress and Tibetans inside and outside, I would like to address solidarity and support (for Lee) and demand that China release Lee as soon as possible from prison,” Tsewang Dolma, an executive member of the organization, said at a press conference in Taipei.

Tsewang Dolma said she feels the pain suffered by Lee’s family and friends who are worried about his condition, because many Tibetans are also imprisoned in China for their political and religious beliefs.

“Writing and sharing experiences is not a crime,” Tsewang Dolma said.

Representatives from the Taiwan Association for Human Rights and other nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) co-hosted the press conference as a demonstration that they will continue to push the call for Lee’s release.

A member of staff at Wenshan Community College in Taipei, Lee, 43, was arrested March 19, 2017 when he entered Guangdong Province from Macau.

He was accused of using online discussion groups to disseminate information and articles attacking the Chinese government and system and was sentenced to five years in prison and two years’ deprivation of political rights for “subversion of state power.”

Lee was the first Taiwanese convicted of attempting to overthrow the Chinese government and the first foreign NGO worker detained after China’s new Foreign NGO Management Law came into effect in January 2017.

On Nov. 21, Amnesty International (AI) released a statement calling for urgent action on Lee, whose family is not allowed to see him since the last prison visit 10 Sept. 2018. His whereabouts remain uncertain.

Lee Ching-yu (李淨瑜), the wife of Lee Ming-che, said at a news conference Nov. 10 that the Chinese authorities have denied her request to visit her husband twice.

The rejection or postponement of visiting requests from Lee’s family and rumors that he has been transferred multiple times to different prisons without explanation have raised concerns about his health and his treatment in prison, according to Luna Liu (劉璐娜), deputy head of AI, Taiwan.
AI has demanded that China release Lee immediately and unconditionally because in peacefully exercising his right to freedom of expression, he has committed no crime, Liu said.

Pending Lee’s release, China should ensure that he is protected from torture and other ill-treatment, and that he has regular, unrestricted access to family and medical care on request or as necessary while in detention, Liu said.