Human Rights Watch sends letter to EU asking for China to free Taiwan activist

China's human rights situation has been deteriorating, say 23 signatory groups

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Chinese Premier Li Keqiang (right) with European Council President Donald Tusk at last year's EU-China summit. (By Associated Press)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – Ahead of a summit between the European Union and China next month, Human Rights Watch and other non-governmental organizations sent an open letter to EU leaders, asking them to work for the release of imprisoned activists such as Taiwan’s Lee Ming-che (李明哲).

The former Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) volunteer was arrested in China in March last year and later sentenced to five years in prison for subversive activities. He has since been imprisoned in the province of Hunan.

Top EU officials including European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, European Council President Donald Tusk, and EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs Federica Mogherini will be attending next month’s summit in Beijing.

They should “publicly and privately demand that China release those deprived of their liberty for exercising human rights,” the open letter from Human Rights Watch in conjunction with 23 NGOs said.

The European leaders should speak out in public and develop a strategy to achieve the release of the activists, which included top Chinese, Uyghur and Tibetan human rights activists but also Lee.

Human Rights Watch noted that “hopes for legal reform have now faded” while arbitrary detentions and the adoption of abusive laws have increased, while China had also been exporting its practices, sometimes through international organizations such as Interpol.

The list of signatories for the open letter named E-Ling Chiu, secretary general of the Taiwan Association for Human Rights, and Cedric Alviani, Taipei Bureau director of Reporters without Borders, as well as representatives of Amnesty International and Freedom House.