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Activists demand China allow jailed Taiwan human rights worker family visits

Lee Ming-che disappeared in March 2017, expected to be released in 2022

Activists at Taipei's Liberty Square demanding freedom for Lee Ming-che 

Activists at Taipei's Liberty Square demanding freedom for Lee Ming-che  (CNA photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Four years after Taiwanese human rights advocate Lee Ming-che (李明哲) disappeared in China, activists on Wednesday (March 17) demanded the restoration of visiting rights to his family.

Lee vanished after entering China from Macau in March 2017. Only after many months did Beijing confirm he had been detained for his contacts with dissidents and human rights activists.

At what was widely regarded as a show trial in November 2017, he was sentenced to five years in prison. His wife, Lee Ching-yu (李淨瑜), has only sporadically been allowed to visit him at his Hunan Province prison.

The Taiwan Association for Human Rights (TAHR) and other groups held a cycling protest in Taipei Wednesday morning, demanding freedom of speech in China and Lee’s immediate release, CNA reported. They rode from Wenshan Community College in Wenshan District, where he used to teach, to Liberty Square at the Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall.

With his expected release only one year away, there is still no news about an official release date for Lee, the activists said. They remarked that this type of situation could never happen in a democracy governed by the rule of law. Even basic human rights such as his relatives’ right to visit him had not been respected, they added.

In January of last year, the Chinese authorities used the coronavirus pandemic as an excuse to deny Lee visits and did not even let him call home, the activists said. His family received a letter he reportedly wrote last March two months later, but he has not been heard from since.