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Notice to allow visit to detained Taiwanese 'a charade': NGO

2018/01/30 22:50:53

Lee Ching-yu (李凈瑜, left)

Taipei, Jan. 30 (CNA) Although it initially appeared as if China had agreed to allow the wife of detained Taiwanese human rights advocate Lee Ming-che (李明哲) to visit him in jail, "it was all a charade," said Chen Yu-fan (陳雨凡), executive director of the Judicial Reform Foundation Tuesday.

Lee Ming-che's wife, Lee Ching-yu (李凈瑜), on Monday received a notification, dated Jan. 2, from the prison where her husband is incarcerated informing her of the visitation rules.

According to those rules, Lee Ming-che can receive visits once a month on Tuesdays by up to three family members, who have to present proof of kinship, for no more than 30 minutes.

Upon receiving the notification, Lee Ching-yu decided to make the trip the next day, the last chance to see her husband this month, only to be turned away at the counter of China's Xiamen Air at Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport at noon Tuesday.

Lee was told by airline ground crew that she did not have a legal entry permit for China.

Lee Ching-yu only discovered her Mainland Travel Permit (台胞證) was invalidated on April 10, 2017 at the airport when she was about to check in for a flight to China to look for her husband who had gone missing on March 19 and whose whereabouts were unknown at that time.

Asked by CNA Tuesday evening to comment on the situation, Chen said that despite the notification from the prison, China actually was not inclined to allow Lee Ching-yu to visit her husband.

China only allowed Lee Ching-yu to attend a trial hearing for her husband in September and the reading of his verdict in November using a landing visa in order to draw attention to the "show trial" of Lee Ming-che, Chen said.

China would not have withheld the notice until the last minute and then denied her boarding had it been willing to let her visit her husband, she said.

According to international human right covenants, the right of a detained or imprisoned person to be visited should not be suspended or restricted as with the right to consult with legal counsel, except in exceptional circumstances, Chen said.

The Criminal Procedure Law of the People's Republic of China also grants such rights, but there have been cases involving Chinese citizens when those rights were not guaranteed, she said.

Chen said the way China has handled the case of Lee Ming-che from beginning to end demonstrates that the Chinese government operates based on the "rule of man," not the "rule of law."

Earlier Tuesday at the airport, Lee Ching-yu told reporters that she will continue to try and visit her husband as long as he is in jail in China.

Receiving visits from family members is a right accorded prisoners with roots "that can be traced back to the most ancient time" and is also a symbol of civilization, Lee Ching-yu said.

Lee Ching-yu said she was told by the prison's administration on Monday that she could visit her husband as long as she was able to enter China.

"No matter whether they let me enter China or not, I still had to try," she said. "I will keep trying."

(By Shih Hsiu-chuan and Wu Jui-chi )