China: After 4 years of arbitrary detention, Taiwanese activist Li Ming-Che must be released

19/03/2021
Statement

Paris-Geneva, March 19, 2021 – Today, on the four-year anniversary of the arbitrary detention of Taiwanese human rights defender Li Ming-Che in China, we, the undersigned human rights organisations, strongly condemn the repeated violations of his human rights since his arrest. We reiterate our call on the government of China to immediately release him and to put an end to the use of arbitrary detention and enforced disappearance against activists and human rights defenders.

Our organisations strongly condemn the prolonged arbitrary detention and inhumane treatment of Mr. Li Ming-Che, which disregard international law, and urge the Chinese government to immediately and unconditionally release him. Mr. Li Ming-Che is currently incarcerated in Chi-Shan prison, Hunan Province.

Throughout his imprisonment, Mr. Li Ming-Che has been subjected to inhumane treatment and his human rights have been repeatedly violated. Mr. Li Ming-Che’s relatives have not been able to see him since January 7, 2020, and have not received any letters from Mr. Li Ming-Che since May 2020. In addition, nearly three years and four months after his conviction and prison sentence, Mr. Li Ming-Che’s family has not received the verdict in writing and is still unaware of the exact date of the end of his prison term.

Mr. Li Ming-Che has been progressively prevented from having any contacts with his family, whether in writing, by telephone or in person. In October 2018, he was transferred from Chi-Shan prison, to Yan-Cheng prison, Hebei Province, for about 10 days without an explanation and without notice to his relatives. His winter clothes were taken from him and his prison account frozen, preventing him from buying food. It has also been reported that Mr. Li Ming-Che has been put into a forced-labour mandatory program called “reform through labour”.

The undersigned organisations call on the international community to stand in solidarity with Li Ming-Che, and to push for an end of the Chinese government’s use of reprisals against human rights defenders.

Background

Program Manager at Wen-Shan Community College in Taiwan and volunteer with the Taiwan-based NGO Covenants Watch, Mr. Li Ming-Che worked for the promotion of civil and political rights in Taiwan and in China prior to his arrest. He supported activists and civil society organisations in China, sharing the experience of Taiwan’s democratic process and encouraging online donations to the families of jailed Chinese dissidents.

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”.

In September 2017, sixth months after his arrest, he pleaded guilty on charges of “subverting state power” through promoting “Western-style democracy” and was sentenced two months later to five years in prison by the Yueyang Intermediate Court. His wife nevertheless confided that he was forced to plead guilty.

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.

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