Taiwanese activist subject to inhuman treatment in China: wife

2018/12/24 22:44:21 fontsize-small fontsize-default fontsize-big
Taiwanese activist subject to inhuman treatment in China: wife

Taipei, Dec. 24 (CNA) Taiwanese democracy activist Lee Ming-che (李明哲), who is serving a jail sentence in China, has been forced to work for long hours and eat spoiled food and cannot withdraw money from his account to buy warm clothing, his wife said Monday.

The account -- including payments Lee Ming-che has received for doing forced labor at a hat factory and money received from his family -- has been frozen for months, said Lee Ching-yu (李凈瑜), who visited her husband in Chishan Prison in Hunan province on Dec. 18.

Lee Ching-yu said she did not know whether the account had been unfrozen since her return and was worried about her husband's health because the average temperature where the prison is located has hit as low as five degrees Celsius and snow is in this week's forecast.

"Lee Ming-che has suffered severe weight loss and is angry about the way he has been treated in prison," Lee Ching-yu said at a press conference Monday.

"He wanted me to write down what he said word by word, call a press conference, and make his situation known to the whole world," she said.

After being denied several requests to visit Lee Ming-che since September amid rumors that he was transferred to a prison in Hebei Province, Lee Ching-yu was able to confirm with her husband on Dec. 18 that he was relocated to a prison in Beijing for 10 days.

"He didn't know when and to which prison he was transferred to," she said. "Since then, his winter clothes were discarded by Chishan Prison and his account frozen. He has had no money to buy food and clothes available at the prison since being transferred back."

Lee Ming-che was convicted on a charge of "subversion of state power" for using online discussion groups to disseminate information and articles attacking the Chinese government and system and was sentenced in November 2017 to five years in Chishan Prison and two years' deprivation of political rights.

The 43-year-old, then a member of the staff at Wenshan Community College in Taipei, was arrested in March 2017 when he entered Guangdong Province from Macau.

Since being jailed in Chishan Prison, Lee Ming-che has been forced to work for more than 10 hours every day at the factory, and he has had to buy his meals at his own expense because the food served by the prison is usually spoiled, Lee Ching-yu said.

Lee Ching-yu lambasted the Chinese authorities for depriving her husband of the right to communicate with his family by phone or letters, saying most of the books she has sent to him and all of the postcards and letters sent by others were not getting through.

In the 645 days Lee Ming-che has been held by Chinese authorities, he has not been allowed to make a phone call home and has received only a few letters from his family, and his wife has only been allowed to make six visits, according to nongovernment organization (NGO) activists who accompanied Lee Ching-yu at the press conference.

Several hundred letters or postcards addressed to Lee Ming-che have been sent to Chishan Prison since the NGOs started the movement last year to show their support for him, and the campaign will continue until his release, the activists said.

The inhuman treatment Lee Ming-che has received shows that China has flouted international human rights norms, including the United Nations Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners, and even its own Prison Law, the activists said, demanding that China release him immediately.

(By Shih Hsiu-chuan)
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