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Wife of jailed Taiwanese activist appeals to EU for support

2018/04/25 12:24:08

Lee Ching-yu (李凈瑜)

Brussels, April 25 (CNA) The wife of Taiwanese democracy activist Lee Ming-che (李明哲), who is serving a five-year jail sentence in China for promoting human rights, urged the European Commission (EC) on Tuesday to tell Beijing to support freedom of speech and release her husband.

The activist's wife, Lee Ching-yu (李凈瑜), issued her appeal at a seminar on religious freedom and human rights in China hosted by Bas Belder, a member of the European Conservatives and Reformists Group in the European Parliament.

Lee Ming-che's case is different to those of Chinese political prisoners because "he is a Taiwanese, a foreigner rather than a Chinese national," Lee Ching-yu argued, saying it was unacceptable that her husband was arrested and convicted as a Chinese national.

China used her husband's case to threaten all Taiwanese and international NGOs that care about human rights in China and also tried to show the world that the Republic of China (Taiwan) is part of its territory, Lee Ching-yu said.

That position, however, is unacceptable to Taiwanese and the international community, she said.

Lee Ching-yu also explained why she was asking for the EC's help.

Taiwan's government, she said, faces major obstacles in trying to free one of its citizens jailed in China because of cooling relations across the Taiwan Strait, making an intervention by the international community essential.

Lee Ming-che was sentenced to five years in prison in November for "subverting state power" because of comments he made and information he circulated on social media about democracy, freedom of expression and human rights in China.

He had been held for more than eight months prior to the sentencing after disappearing on March 19 when he entered China through Macau, and is now serving his sentence at Chishan Prison in Hunan province.

At Tuesday's conference, Belder said he had visited Taiwan several times and was aware of the government's assertion that Taiwan's future should be decided by its people.

Human rights issues can be openly discussed in Taiwan, and there are some important human rights groups in the country, Belder said, in contrast to China, where the government has tightened its restrictions on religious freedom and human rights.

Taiwan Association for China Human Rights Chairman Yang Hsien-hung (楊憲宏), who also attended the seminar, said Lee Ching-yu's refusal to settle her husband's case privately was meaningful to Taiwan because it helped protect Taiwan's national dignity and justice.



(By Tang Pei-chun and Evelyn Kao)
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