Relatives of Taiwan rights activist seek to visit him after China prison move

MAC learned of move to Chishan prison in Hunan

Lee Ming-che at his trial in China last November.

Lee Ming-che at his trial in China last November. (By Central News Agency)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – Relatives of Taiwanese human rights activist Lee Ming-che (李明哲) are contacting the Chishan Prison in China’s province of Hunan after he was moved there to serve a five-year sentence for subversive activities, the Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) said Thursday.

The November verdict marked the first time that a Taiwanese citizen was slapped with a prison sentence in China for political activities.

At a regular news conference Thursday, the MAC said it had learned that Lee was being moved and had informed his relatives in Taiwan of the fact. They in turn were contacting the Chishan Prison and the provincial penitentiary authorities to learn how they could apply to visit him, the Central News Agency reported.

The exchanges of information in China reportedly happened through the chairman of a local association of Taiwanese business people.

After he had been detained upon entering China from Macau last March, Lee’s relatives found it hard to obtain information about where he was being held. Attempts by his wife to board a flight to China to look him up were sabotaged by the Chinese government, and it was only for the trial in November that she was allowed to travel to Hunan.

The verdict has been seen as an attempt by the communist authorities to scare away foreign non-governmental and human rights organizations, while it has met with condemnation from Taiwan and from rights groups worldwide.