Amnesty International supports Taiwan activist held in China

Group collects signatures at MRT stations and online

NGOs and family members of Taiwanese activist Lee Ming-che asking for his release.

NGOs and family members of Taiwanese activist Lee Ming-che asking for his release.

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – The Taiwanese chapter of Amnesty International launched a petition campaign at the beginning of the four-day Qingming holiday calling on China to release non-governmental organization worker Lee Ming-che (李明哲).

The man, who also used to be employed by the Democratic Progressive Party, disappeared after crossing into China’s Guangdong Province from Macau on March 19, apparently in a bid to arrange medical treatment for his mother-in-law.

It took another ten days before China’s Taiwan Affairs Office confirmed rumors that he had been detained for supposed “activities harmful to national security.”

Activists from Amnesty International on Saturday started collecting signatures at Mass Rapid Transit stations and online to give Lee’s fate higher international visibility, reports said.

A number of NGOs and action groups also joined in a news conference to express their concern for the Taiwanese man’s fate. Some have interpreted China’s move against Lee as a warning to NGOs active inside the communist country. China just passed a new law banning such groups from involvement in political issues.

Lee’s wife recently dropped her stated intention to appoint a Chinese attorney but said she would try to travel to Beijing to obtain more clarity about her husband’s case. She also donated medicine and NT$30,000 to the Straits Exchange Foundation in the hope the semi-official body could pass it on to Lee in China.

Little is known about where he is being held and about the nature of the accusations against him. He is employed by the Wenshan Community College in Taipei City, but has a history of concern for Chinese human rights issues.