Taiwan trying to get detained Taiwan activist home: president

2017/04/12 18:05:25
Taiwan trying to get detained Taiwan activist home: president

Taipei, April 12 (CNA) President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) said Wednesday that the government is doing its utmost to help a Taiwanese human rights and democracy advocate who has been detained in China to return to Taiwan, ensure his safety and maintain the nation's dignity.

The president told senior executives of Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) that her government is do everything within its power so that Lee Ming-che (李明哲) can soon return home safe and sound, according to DPP spokesperson Wu Pei-yi (吳沛憶).

Premier Lin Chuan (林全) for his part said the government is still hoping to talk with China over its handling of the detention of Lee, a former Democratic Progressive Party worker who is now a staff member at Wenshan Community College in Taipei.

Lin made the remarks after a travel permit for Lee's wife, Lee Ching-yu (李凈瑜), was revoked two days earlier.

Lin said he is disappointed with China's handling of the case since Lee was detained by the Chinese authorities after entering the city of Zhuhai via Macau on March 19.

China has yet to clarify why Lee was detained and where he is being held after it confirmed in late March that he was being detained on suspicion of endangering national security.

Lee's wife was turned back at Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport Monday when she was told by check-in staff that her travel permit to China had been revoked and that she could not board the plane.

Stressing that the government is very concerned about the issue, Lin said he has been briefed on the latest developments in the case and believes that many things relating to Lee's detention could be better dealt with.

Lin also expressed hope that communications between Taiwan and China can be resumed.

His call came after Chang Hsiao-yueh (張小月), head of the Mainland Affairs Council (MAC), the nation's top body in charge of China policy, said a day earlier that the government has communicated with China through existing channels, but added that China has yet to respond.

Chang also said that medicine for high blood pressure sent by Lee's wife on March 28 has been received by China's Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Straits (ARATS) -- the semi-official organization authorized to handle civilian exchanges across the Taiwan Strait.

However, An Fengshan (安峰山) of China's Taiwan Affairs Office (TAO), said Wednesday that ARATS has not received anything from Lee's relatives and that ARATS has not contacted its Taiwanese counterpart -- the Straits Exchange Foundation (SEF) -- regarding the matter.

An was responding to Chang's statement a day earlier that the SEF has contacted ARATS several times regarding the case but China has not responded to any requests and has not released any details of the case.

ARATS has commissioned a Taiwanese organization dubbed the Cross-Strait Exchanges Services Center to inform Lee's wife of his latest situation, An said, adding that the organization has also handed over personal letters from Lee to his parents and wife.

However, Lee Ching-yu on Monday described the organization's head, Lee Chun-min (李俊敏), as a mere "broker," whom she said brought a copy of a letter from Lee Ming-che on April 7, which she refused to accept as it was not an original.

According to Lee, Lee Chun-min told her to "keep a low profile and cooperate" if she wanted her husband to be released soon, but if she insisted on taking a scheduled fight to Beijing to make her appeal, then a "TV station in Guangdong Province will immediately broadcast a video of Lee Ming-che confessing to his crime."

Meanwhile, Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) deputy head Lin Cheng-yi (林正義) said Wednesday that MAC has received a receipt for the medicine signed by ARATS.

Lin also said that Lee is probably being detained in China's Guangdong Province based on information gathered by the MAC through various channels, although this has not been confirmed by the Chinese authorities.

Lin said that while China's Ministry of Public Security informed Taiwan's National Police Agency on April 1 of Lee's situation, the Chinese government did not meet the requirement for immediate notification of the case as stipulated in a cross-strait crime-fighting and judicial assistance agreement.

(By Scarlett Chai, Lawrence Chiu, Tyson Lu and Evelyn Kao)
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