China: Violation of Li Ming-che’s rights as a prisoner

07/01/2019
Urgent Appeal

New information
CHN 002 / 0417 / OBS 034.4
Arbitrary detention /
Violations of prisoner’s rights
China
January 7, 2019

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 the Taiwan Association for Human Rights and Covenants Watch about the ongoing arbitrary detention and violation of prisoner’s rights faced by 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 December 18, 2018, Ms. Lee Ching-yu - Mr. Li Ming-che’s wife - was able to visit her husband in Chi-Shan prison, Hunan Province, after Chinese authorities had denied her requests for a visit several times between September and December 2018 (see background information).

The Observatory recalls that Mr. Li Ming-che has been arbitrarily detained since March 19, 2017. On November 28, 2017, he was sentenced to five years in prison on charges of “subverting State power”. Mr. Li Ming-che is suffering a number of other violations of his rights, including practices that may amount to torture or ill-treatment.

When Mr. Li Ming-che was transferred to Beijing prison for ten days for unknown reasons in October 2018, his family was not informed about the transfer. When Mr. Li Ming-che was transferred back to Chi-Shan prison, his warm clothes and personal belongings were taken away and his prison cash account frozen because he was considered as a “new” inmate. As a result, he was unable to buy food and lost about 30 kilograms.

In addition, since March 2017, hundreds of letters sent by various senders have not reached Mr. Li Ming-che. The only letters received have been the ones from his wife and mother, following a six-month delay. Several of the books sent by Ms. Lee Ching-yu were also not delivered to him, despite being legally published in China.

Mr. Li Ming-che has also not been allowed to have a phone card to contact his family members, because the Chinese government argued that they were unable to verify Mr. Li’s official ID, despite this having been issued by Chinese authorities.

In Chi-Shan prison, Mr. Li Ming-che has to work for more than ten hours a day, without any rest day – a practice called “reform through labor”.

The Observatory strongly condemns the ongoing arbitrary 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 and conditions of detention.

The Observatory urges Chinese authorities to immediately and unconditionally release Mr. Li Ming-che and to ensure his psychological wellbeing and his 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.

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.

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

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 and unconditionally release Mr. Li Ming-che as his detention is arbitrary since it only seems to aim at punishing him for his human rights activities;

iii. Guarantee Mr. Li Ming-che basic rights as a prisoner in accordance with the Basic Principles for the Treatment of Prisoners [4], and his access 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, January 7, 2019

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.
[4] United Nations General Assembly resolution 45/111 of December 14, 1990.

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