Wife of Taiwan activist detained in China seeks U.S. help

2017/05/19 12:14:48
Wife of Taiwan activist detained in China seeks U.S. help

Washington, May 18 (CNA) The wife of a Taiwan human rights activist detained in China appealed to the United States for help securing the release of her husband at a U.S. House of Representatives committee hearing on Thursday.

She also pleaded for Washington to help preserve and enhance the human rights of people in Taiwan according to the Taiwan Relations Act (TRA).

Lee Ching-yu (李凈瑜), the wife of Lee Ming-che (李明哲), who has been detained for 57 days in China, attended the hearing into the disappearance, detention and torture in China, along with the wives of three Chinese human rights lawyers who have also been detained.

In a written statement, Lee Ching-yu said she had no choice but to seek help from the U.S, a country she described as "the leading democracy in the free world."

She praised the U.S. for having long been the protector of justice, freedom and democracy everywhere, including Taiwan.

"The U.S. Congress has also voluntarily taken on the responsibility, as specified in section 2, clause 3 of the Taiwan Relations Act, to preserve and enhance the human rights of the people of Taiwan," she said.

"Therefore, I stand alone before you today to plead for your help for my husband," Lee said, asking the U.S. to continue to observe the conditions laid down in the TRA.

She asked the U.S. government to pressure China to recognize the illegitimate detention of her husband by the provincial government of Guangdong and to free him, the statement said.

Chris Smith, a veteran congressman who chaired the hearing of the subcommittee on global human rights, said Taiwan is an important democratic ally of the United States and a beacon of peace and democracy in Asia.

The U.S. should continue its promises stated in the TRA and Six Assurances, which are the fundamental basis of Taiwan-U.S. relations, he said.

Through the testimony of the wives of tortured and detained rights advocates, Smith said in a press release announcing the hearing that it would look at the almost two-year effort by Chinese President Xi Jinping's government to "eviscerate China's network of human rights lawyers."

The hearing would "consider how the continued detention of Lee Ming-che has negatively impacted cross-strait relations between Beijing and Taipei," he said.

Smith is now the co-chairman of the Congressional Executive Commission on China.

After the hearing, Lee Ching-yu told the press that did not expect her husband to be released because of the hearing, but that being a human rights worker, one must believe in certain values and work hard to see them realized.

She said as long as her husband remains detained, she will do everything in her power to secure his release.

Before her departure on Sunday from Taiwan to the U.S, Chiu Ling-yao (邱齡瑤), secretary-general of the Taiwan Association for China Human Rights and spokesman for the NGO working for Lee's release, said they would also seek support from the European Union and United Nations as part of their efforts.

Lee Ming-che was detained after entering Zhuhai City via Macau on March 19. He used to work for Taiwan's ruling Democratic Progressive Party and is currently a staff member at Wenshan Community College in Taipei, as well as a volunteer at the local NGO Covenant Watch.

He could be the first overseas NGO worker known to be detained in China since a draconian law gave police control over foreign non-government groups at the beginning of 2017, according to Smith.

(By Tony Liao and Elizabeth Hsu)
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