China: Ongoing incommunicado detention of Mr. Li Ming-che

15/11/2018
Urgent Appeal

New information
CHN 002 / 0417 / OBS 034.3
Incommunicado detention
China
November 15, 2018

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a joint partnership of FIDH and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT), has received new information and requests your intervention in the following situation in China.

New information:

The Observatory has been informed by reliable sources about the ongoing incommunicado detention of Mr. Li Ming-che, Programme Manager at Wen-Shan Community College in Taiwan and a volunteer with the Taiwan-based NGO Covenants Watch [1].

According to the information received, on November 9, 2018, Chinese authorities rejected a request by Mrs. Lee Ching-yu - Mr. Li Ming-che’s wife - to visit her husband in Chi-Shan prison on November 12.

Moreover, on October 19, 2018, the Taiwan’s Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) [2] was informed by reliable sources that Mr. Li Ming-che had been transferred from Chi-Shan prison in Hunan to Yan-Cheng prison, in Hebei Province [3]. On October 31, 2018, the MAC was informed that Mr. Li Ming-che had been transferred back to Chi-Shan prison. However, neither Mr. Li Ming-che’ s family members nor MAC received an official notice about these two transfers from the Chinese government. Chinese authorities also failed to provide any reasons for the transfers.

Mrs. Lee Ching-yu was able to visit her husband five times since March2018. Some visiting requests were rejected or postponed without any reason by the Chinese government. Mrs. Lee Ching-yu last visited her husband on September 10, 2018. According to Chinese prison regulations, prisoners are allowed to make phone calls to their families at a prior-designated and approved number. Nonetheless, Mrs. Lee Ching-yu has never received any phone calls at this number or any correspondence from Mr. Li Ming-che.

Since Mrs. Lee Ching-yu’s last visit on September 10, 2018, Mr. Li Ming-che’s family has not received any information about his fate or whereabouts.

The Observatory recalls that Mr. Li Ming-che remains arbitrarily detained since March 19, 2017. On November 28, 2017, he was sentenced to five years in prison (see background information).

The Observatory strongly condemns the ongoing arbitrary and incommunicado detention of Mr. Li Ming-che, which seems to be merely aimed at punishing him for his legitimate and peaceful human rights activities, and remains concerned about Mr. Li Ming-che’s health, as he suffers from hypertension.

The Observatory urges Chinese authorities to disclose Mr. Li Ming-che’s whereabouts, to immediately and unconditionally release him and to ensure his psychological and physical integrity.

Background information:

On March 19, 2017, Mr. Li Ming-che was detained after entering mainland China for personal matters from Macau through the Gongbei Port immigration checkpoint located in Zhuhai, Guangdong Province. Chinese authorities refused to disclose his fate or whereabouts until March 29, 2017, when they revealed that Mr. Li Ming-che was being detained at an undisclosed location and investigated by State security police on suspicion of “endangering national security”.

Prior to his arrest, Mr. Li Ming-che had shared the experience of Taiwan’s democratic process with his Chinese friends online and sent them books on human rights and modern history. In early 2016, he was active online to encourage donations to support the families of Chinese human rights activists who had been detained by Chinese authorities.

On April 10, 2017, Mr. Li Ming-che’s wife attempted to fly to Beijing to seek information about her husband’s detention but she was prevented from boarding her flight after Chinese authorities revoked her travel pass.

On May 26, 2017, Chinese authorities issued a statement to confirm the detention of Mr. Li Ming-che.

On September 11, 2017, Mr. Li Ming-che was briefly allowed to see his family, for the first time since his arrest. The same day, his trial opened before the Yueyang Intermediate Court in Hunan Province. During the first hearing, Mr. Li Ming-che pleaded guilty to the charges brought against him. Li Ming-che confessed that he had “disseminated articles and essays that maliciously attacked and defamed the Chinese government, the Chinese Communist Party and China’s current political system,” and that he had “incited the subversion of State power.” It is feared that this confession, which was filmed and released online on Youtube by Yueyang Court, had been made under pressure from Chinese authorities.

On November 28, 2017, Yueyang Intermediate Court sentenced Mr. Li Ming-che to five years in prison after founding him guilty on charges of “subverting State power”. The court also stripped him of all political rights in China for two years. Mr. Li Ming-che did not appeal the verdict.

Actions requested:

Please write to the authorities of China asking them to:

i. Guarantee in all circumstances the physical and psychological integrity of Mr. Li Ming-che, as well as that of all human rights defenders in China,including by ensuring immediate and unhindered access to medical care;

ii. Immediately disclose Mr. Li Ming-che’s fate and whereabouts and release him immediately and unconditionally as his detention is arbitrary since it only seems to aim at punishing him for his human rights activities;

iii. Guarantee the unhindered access of Mr. Li Ming-che to a lawyer of his choice and his family members;

iv. Put an end to all acts of harassment - including at the judicial level - against Mr. Li Ming-che and all human rights defenders in the country so that they are able to carry out their work without hindrance;

v. Comply with the provisions of the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations on December 9, 1998, in particular with its Articles 1, 6(c) and 12.2; and

vi. Ensure in all circumstances respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms in accordance with the Universal Declaration on Human Rights and other international human rights instruments signed or ratified by China.

Addresses:

· Mr. Li Keqiang, Prime Minister of the People’s Republic of China, Fax: +86 10 659 611 09 (c/o Ministry of Foreign Affairs), Email:premier@mail.gov.cn
· Mr. Guo Shengkun, Minister of Public Security of the People’s Republic of China, Fax: +86 10 63099216, Email: gabzfwz@mps.gov.cn
· H.E. Mr. Zhaoxu Ma, Ambassador, Permanent Mission of the People’s Republic of China to the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland, Fax: +41 22 793 70 14, E-mail: chinamission_gva@mfa.gov.cn
· H.E. Mr. QU XING, Ambassador, Embassy of the People’s Republic of China in Brussels, Belgium, Fax: +32-2-7792895; Email: chinaemb_be@mfa.gov.cn

Please also write to the diplomatic representations of China in your respective countries.

***
Paris-Geneva, November 15, 2018

Kindly inform us of any action undertaken quoting the code of this appeal in your reply.

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders (the Observatory) was created in 1997 by FIDH and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT). The objective of this programme is to prevent or remedy situations of repression against human rights defenders. FIDH and OMCT are both members of ProtectDefenders.eu, the European Union Human Rights Defenders Mechanism implemented by international civil society.

To contact the Observatory, call the emergency line:
· E-mail: Appeals@fidh-omct.org
· Tel and fax FIDH +33 (0) 1 43 55 25 18 / +33 1 43 55 18 80
· Tel and fax OMCT +41 (0) 22 809 49 39 / +41 22 809 49 29

[1] Established in 2009, Taiwan-based Covenants Watch monitors the Taiwanese Government’s fulfilment of its international obligations stemming from human rights conventions, conducts policy training and advocacy activities, and serves as a platform for collaboration for other human rights groups operating in Taiwan.
[2] The MAC is an administrative agency under the Executive Yuan (branch) of the Government of Taiwan. It is responsible for the planning, development, and implementation of policies concerning relations between Taiwan and China.
[3] Yan-Cheng prison in Hebei Province is the only prison directly managed by the Ministry of Justice.

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