Relatives of Taiwanese rights activist Lee Ming-che seek to visit him after China’s prison move

Christof Lehmann (nsnbc) : Relatives of Taiwanese human rights activist Lee Ming-che are contacting the Chishan Prison in China’s Hunan province after he was moved there to serve a five-year sentence for so-called subversive activities, the Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) said Thursday.

Lee at "the people's" kangaroo court?

Lee at “the people’s” kangaroo court?

The verdict handed down to Lee Ming-che in November 2017 by the “People’s Republic” of China attracted international attention and condemnation. Lee was found guilty of – among others – endangering the national security of the people’s republic by criticizing the Communist Party of China.

In September 2017, before the verdict in November his wife Lee Ching-yu, who attended the trial, asked the people of Taiwan for forgiveness if Lee should plead guilty, suggesting that an attempt to mount an actual legal defense would merely lead to a more despotic sentence.

At a regular news conference Thursday, the MAC said it had learned that Lee was being moved and had informed his relatives in Taiwan of the fact. They in turn were contacting the Chishan Prison and the provincial penitentiary authorities to learn how they could apply to visit him, the Central News Agency reported.

The exchanges of information in China reportedly happened through the chairman of a local association of Taiwanese business people. After he had been detained upon entering China from Macau in March 2017, Lee’s relatives found it hard to obtain information about where he was being held. Attempts by his wife to board a flight to China to look him up were sabotaged by the Chinese government, and it was only for the trial in November that she was allowed to travel to Hunan.

The verdict has been seen as an attempt by the communist authorities to scare away foreign non-governmental and human rights organizations, while it has been met with condemnation from Taiwan and from rights groups worldwide.

At the Yueyang Intermediate Court in Hunan Province, Lee Ming-che pleaded guilty to subverting Beijing’s authority, the first time a non-profit worker has been prosecuted on such charges since China passed a new strict law constraining foreign non-governmental organizations.

Giving testimony in Court Lee admitted that he “had spread articles that maliciously attacked the Communist Party of China, China’s existing system, and China’s government”. Regarding the content of the prosecution, Lee said there was no objection and he thanked the law enforcement unit for its “civilized handling of the case.” Lee’s wife, Lee Ching-yu, who was invited by the Chinese government to attend the trial, told reporters that she believed her husband may be pressured into pleading guilty.

Lee Ming-yu (archive)

Lee Ming-yu (archive)

She also pleaded to the public in Taiwan to show forgiveness because her husband mat be pressured into saying something that would be embarrassing, and that she was hopeful that her husband would be released. Lee’s mother, Kuo Hsiu-chin, is also attending the trial.

Earlier attempts by his wife to fly to China and visit him were barred by the authorities there, who canceled her travel document. Lee, 42, is a former employee of President Tsai Ing-wen’s Democratic Progressive Party who expressed interest in China’s human rights situation and later went on to volunteer for a non-governmental organization that raised money for families of political prisoners in China and lecture on Taiwan’s democratization at community colleges.

In kangaroo court after the “people’s republic” disappeared Lee?

There is a strong case for the argument that Lee “was disappeared” in violation of international law against forced disappearances and other humanitarian laws. It took the government of the People’s Republic of China ten days before Beijing caved in for mounting international pressure and acknowledged that Lee had been arrested.

At a regular news conference in Beijing Wednesday, March 29, 2017, Beijing’s Taiwan Affairs Office spokesman Ma Xiaoguang, for the first time acknowledged that Lee had been detained, saying he was being investigated “on the suspicion of conducting activities damaging to national security.” Ma Xiaoguang did not specify what risk Lee Ming-che could have posed to the people’s republic’s “national security”.

He was showing no health problems, Ma said, following concern by his wife about high blood pressure and the possible absence of the necessary medicine. However, Beijing’s spokesman refused to answer questions from Taiwanese reporters as to Lee’s whereabouts, and he did not provide any details about what the former DPP worker had supposedly been doing.

Ma merely claimed that Taiwanese visitors to China had nothing to fear as long as they showed “normal” behavior as the country followed the rule of law. He did not specify what he meant with “normal” either or whether being outspoken about human rights issues was regarded as “not normal or rather normative behavior” in the people’s republic.

The statement prompted nsnbc editor-in-chief Christof Lehmann (this author) to ironically question what “the people’s republic” considers as “normal or normative behavior”, and if that would include “shutting up about human rights concerns, working for low wages for the benefit of the people’s republic and to die as soon as possible after retirement – all for the good of the people”.

Prosecution and trial  clear violations of international law

China_censorship_(archives)The prosecution of Lee Ming-che and the trial for allegedly threatening national security by criticizing the “people’s republic’s” communist party, the political system and the government is a gross violation of international law. The irony that the trend to “shut up dissidents” is especially prevalent in “people’s republics” can hardly be lost on anyone.

The United Nations Human Rights Committee is clear and unambiguous with regard to these problems. Speech that is considered insulting, even speech that insults those in position of power, should never be the basis of a criminal prosecution. (emphasis added)

CH/L – nsnbc 11.01.2018

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