Mon, Apr 09, 2018 - Page 1 News List

Taipei bike ride in support of men detained by China

TAIWANESE, CHINESE:The group shouted ‘release Lee Ming-che and Wang Quanzhang’ as they rode from Liberty Square to Huashan 1914 Creative Park

By Ann Maxon  /  Staff reporter

Members of the Taiwan Association for Human Rights, Covenants Watch, the Judicial Reform Foundation and other groups hold a news conference in front of Libery Plaza in Taipei yesterday before starting a bike ride to promote freedom of speech and protest China’s detention of Taiwanese Lee Ming-che and Chinese lawyer Wang Quanzhang.

Photo: CNA

A group of human rights advocates yesterday bicycled around Taipei to back calls for the release of democracy advocate Lee Ming-che (李明哲) and Chinese human rights lawyer Wang Quanzhang (王全璋), and raise awareness of free speech.

About 10 people representing the Taiwan Association for Human Rights (TAHR), Covenants Watch, the Youth Synergy Taiwan Foundation, the Judicial Reform Foundation, the Legal Initiative for Vietnam and other groups gathered at Liberty Square at 10am before setting off on their ride.

They held placards and banners that read “Lee Ming-che not guilty” and “release Wang Quanzhang.”

A Chinese court in November last year found Lee guilty of state subversion for offering online lectures about Taiwan’s democratization. He was sentenced on Nov. 28 to five years in prison.

“Up until now, Lee has not been able to send out any letters and most of the letters sent to him from Taiwan could not reach him. Although his wife, Lee Ching-yu (李凈瑜), was finally able to visit him in prison on March 27, it is unknown if the Chinese government will ever allow another visit,” TAHR secretary-general Chiu Ee-ling (邱伊翎) said.

Wang was also accused of subversion and has been held incommunicado, she said.

Wang was arrested during the “709” crackdown in 2015 in China that rounded up more than 200 human rights lawyers and activists.

He had defended numerous Falun Gong practitioners and minority groups against government persecution.

Wang’s wife, Li Wenzu (李文足), their two children and a small group of activists on Wednesday last week embarked on a walk of more than 100km from a Beijing court to Tianjin, where Li believes her husband is being detained, to demand the right to see him, Chiu said.

“It has been more than 1,000 days since Wang was arrested and up until today the family and their lawyer have been unable to contact him. No one knows his whereabouts or whether he is healthy,” Chiu said.

“Today we are cycling in this free nation to show our support for Li and to demand the release of Lee and Wang,” she said.

The majority of Taiwanese do not want to be ruled by a government that disregards human rights and democracy, she said.

“The ‘709’ crackdown was the most serious violation of human rights in China in recent years,” said Chinese academic Wu Renhua (吳仁華), who has lived in exile since the Tiananmen Square Massacre in 1989.

“The crackdown was worse than those [in 2012 and 2013] targeting activists involved in the New Citizens Movement. Many human rights lawyers were subjected to torture, which caused them physical and psychological trauma,” Wu said.

That Wang has been secretly held incommunicado for more than 1,000 days is shocking as it was unheard of since 1949, he added.

After talking with the media, the group set off toward Huashan 1914 Creative Park on bikes decorated with yellow ribbons, shouting “release Lee Ming-che and Wang Quanzhang” along the way.

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