China: Conditional release of women’s rights defenders Li Tingting, Wu Rongrong, Zheng Churan, Wei Tingting and Wang Man

Urgent Appeal

Paris-Geneva-New-York-Hong-Kong, April 15, 2015 – The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders (an FIDH-OMCT joint programme), Human Rights in China (HRIC) and China Labour Bulletin (CLB) welcome the release of the five women’s rights defenders after over 37 days of detention, but calls for an immediate end to all police harassment and restrictions placed on the activists.

On April 13, 2015, the Chinese authorities approved the release “upon guarantee pending further investigation” [1] of five prominent women’s rights and gender equality defenders: Ms. Li Tingting (also known as “Li Maizi”), Manager of the LGBT program at the Beijing Yirenping Center; Ms. Wu Rongrong, Founder and Executive Director of the Weizhiming Women’s Center in Hangzhou; Ms. Zheng Churan (also known as “Datu”), staff member of Yirenping based in Guangzhou; Ms. Wei Tingting, Director of LGBT rights organization Ji’ande in Beijing; and Ms. Wang Man, Beijing-based coordinator for the Global Call to Action Against Poverty (GCAP). They were all arbitrarily detained since March 6 and 7, 2015 [2].

However, the five activists are still subject to travel restrictions, police surveillance, and may be summoned for further interrogation at any time.

As the 30 days of criminal detention without charges allowed for by Chinese law expired on April 6 and 7, Beijing police requested the Procuratorate to approve an application for a formal arrest warrant on charges of “organizing a crowd to disturb public order.” According to the lawyers of the activists, the investigation against them continues and pursuant to the terms of the guarantee, their movement and communications will be severely restricted for a year, and they can be interrogated at any time or arrested if they fail to abide by the conditions of their release.

While the release of the five women’s rights defenders is welcome, international attention to their situation should not stop until their release is truly unconditional ”, our organisations said.

For over a month now, rallies have been organised worldwide in support of the five detainees, followed by an increased number of international statements of support including from the U.S., the UK, the EU and the Canadian Governments who have publicly called for the release of the five activists.

Authorities in China cannot hope to address social issues unless they stop persecuting human rights defenders and civil society and instead encourage them to carry out their legitimate and peaceful activities ”, our organisations concluded.

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders (OBS) was created in 1997 by FIDH and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT). The objective of this programme is to intervene to prevent or remedy situations of repression against human rights defenders.

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