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Wife of detained Taiwanese has visit to China blocked

2018/01/30 14:17:50

Lee Ching-yu

Taipei, Jan. 30 (CNA) Lee Ching-yu (李凈瑜), the wife of Taiwanese human rights advocate Lee Ming-che (李明哲) who is being jailed in China, was turned away at an airline counter in Taiwan on Tuesday as she prepared to visit her husband.

Lee Ching-yu was not allowed to check in for her flight by Xiamen Air ground crew at Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport because she did not hold a valid permit to enter China.

She had planned to take a Xiamen Air flight to Changsha scheduled to depart at 11:55 a.m.

Chiu Chui-cheng (邱垂正), a spokesperson for Taiwan's Mainland Affairs Council (MAC), expressed "deep regret" over Lee Ching-yu being denied boarding.

"Visits by family members are both fundamental human rights and humanitarian rights that should be guaranteed," Chiu told CNA, and he urged China to observe its laws as it has often boasted that it is a country governed by the rule of law.

Lee Ming-che, sentenced by a court in China in November to five years in prison and two years' deprivation of political rights after being found guilty of "subversion of state power," was confirmed on Jan. 12 to be jailed in Chishan prison in Hunan province.

Lee Ching-yu received a notice from the prison on Monday that it would permit family visits to her husband, and she decided to travel there even though she did not have a valid travel permit for China, according to the Taiwan Association for Human Rights (TAHR).

China revoked Lee Ching-yu's Mainland Travel Permit (台胞證) in April 2017, but she was allowed to enter China to attend a trial hearing for her husband in September and the reading of his verdict in November using a landing visa.

According to the notice, dated Jan. 2, that was seen by TAHR, Lee Ming-che can be visited once a month on a Tuesday by up to three family members for no more than 30 minutes.

The MAC's Chiu said that after his family found out Lee Ming-che was transferred to Chishan prison, it contacted the prison and the province's prison administration and were told they would be able to visit him as long as they were able to enter China.

Lee Ming-che went missing when he entered China from Macau in March last year. Since his disappearance, China has not allowed his family to visit him in prison, though family members were allowed to be in court in September and November.

The Straits Exchange Foundation (SEF), Taiwan's semi-official agency responsible for handling contacts with China, issued a statement early Tuesday urging China to ensure Lee Ching-yu's entry.

The SEF said it made the appeal to its Chinese counterpart through a cross-strait communication channel Monday night after it learned of Lee Ching-yu's travel plans.

After learning that Lee Ching-yu was stopped from making the trip, SEF spokesperson Kuan An-lu (管安露) called on China to issue her a valid travel document as soon as possible so that she can visit her husband.

(By Shih Hsiu-chuan)
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