Beijing urged to release Taiwanese activist

Members of Taiwan's civic groups holding a news conference to call for China's release of Taiwanese pro-democracy activist Li Ming-che, in Taipei, Taiwan, on April 1, 2017.
Members of Taiwan's civic groups holding a news conference to call for China's release of Taiwanese pro-democracy activist Li Ming-che, in Taipei, Taiwan, on April 1, 2017.PHOTO: EPA

TAIPEI • Amnesty International and local civic groups have urged China to release Taiwanese human rights activist Li Ming-che, who is being held on suspicion of "endangering national security".

China has confirmed the detention of Mr Li, a former Democratic Progressive Party staffer, but has not given details about the charges.

At a joint press conference in Taipei, Amnesty International and representatives from more than 20 Taiwanese civic groups urged Beijing to reveal Mr Li's whereabouts and release him.

It also called on China's government to provide guarantees that the activist would not be tortured and to allow contact between Mr Li and his family and lawyers.

Mr Nicholas Bequelin, Amnesty International's director for East Asia, said: "(His) detention on vague national security grounds will alarm all those that work with NGOs in China. If his detention is solely connected to his legitimate activism, he must be immediately and unconditionally released."

Mr Li, an non-governmental organisation worker supporting activists in China, went missing after he entered the mainland from Macau last month, said Amnesty International. He was last heard from on March 19.

Speaking at the press conference, Associate Professor Lin Hsiu-hsing, head of the Taiwan Association of University Professors, said Beijing was trying to intimidate people in Taiwan into self-censorship.

Taiwan's former vice-president Annette Lu joined the fray yesterday, writing in a Facebook post that cross-strait ties had "deteriorated into a state of cold war". She said Taiwanese nationals must be careful when travelling to China.

Ms Lu also suggested that Mr Li's detention may have been a retaliation over Taiwan's recent arrest of a Chinese national on spying charges.

Mr Li's wife has said she would travel to China to "try and rescue" her husband.

THE CHINA POST/ASIA NEWS NETWORK

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 03, 2017, with the headline 'Beijing urged to release Taiwanese activist'. Print Edition | Subscribe