PHOTO STORY: Protesters at Liberty Square Call for China to Release Taiwan Activist

PHOTO STORY: Protesters at Liberty Square Call for China to Release Taiwan Activist
Credit to: kuan Chen / The News Lens

What you need to know

A photo story of the Lee Ming-che Protest at Liberty Square on May 19.

A small rally was held in Taipei yesterday calling for China to release Taiwanese human rights activist Lee Ming-che (李明哲), who was detained after entering Guangdong two months ago.

Lee, 42, has not been heard from since leaving Taiwan on March 19. China has not disclosed where he is or what charges he faces. More than 40 human rights activists and supporters braved heavy rainfall in the capital last night to attend the rally at Liberty Square.

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Photo Credit to Kuan Chen / The News Lens
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Photo Credit to Kuan Chen / The News Lens
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Photo Credit to Kuan Chen / The News Lens

Timeline of Lee's disappearance:

  • March 19: Lee boarded a flight from Taipei to Macau. He was reportedly traveling to a hospital in Zhuhai, Guangdong, southern China, for a medical consultation for his sick mother-in-law.
  • March 20: Reports emerge that friends and family had been unable to contact Lee since he left Taipei. Officials at the Gongbei Customs in Zhuhai, China, refused to answer questions from Radio Free Asia on whether Lee had been blacklisted by Chinese authorities.
  • March 21: Taiwan’s Straits Exchange Foundation told The News Lens officials were using all available channels to try and locate Lee, including Taiwanese businesspeople working in China, the Mainland Affairs Council and local Chinese authorities. No further information was immediately available.
  • March 27: Lee's wife, Lee Ching-yu (李淨瑜), is informed by the Taiwan government that Lee is being detained in China by a branch of China’s security police.
  • March 29: China’s Taiwan Affairs Office spokesperson Ma Xiaoguang (馬曉光) confirms Lee is being held for “involvement in a threat to national security.” Lee’s supporters, including his wife, several Taiwan legislators and human rights advocates hold a press conference in Taipei to call for Lee’s release.
  • April 9: Lee’s wife issues a statement reiterated her position that she would not acknowledge any confessions or statements issued by her husband – for fear they would not be authentic – before she is able to visit him in person. The statement followed reports that an unnamed organization had told her to keep a low profile in order to ensure her husband’s release.
  • April 10: Lee’s wife attempts to travel to China in a bid to uncover where her husband is being held and what charges he faces. She was scheduled to depart Taipei at 1 p.m. but was informed at the airline counter that China's Ministry of Public Security had canceled her travel permit.
  • April 12: Lee Chun-min (李俊敏), the head of the Cross-Strait Services Exchange Center — an organization linked to China’s Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Straits (ARATS) — said Lee was wrongly arrested because the Guangdong security bureau needed to show performance results under China’s new NGO laws, Lee’s wife, Lee Ching-yu (李凈瑜), says in a statement.
  • April 12: China’s Taiwan Affairs Office spokesperson An Fengshan (安峰山) warned Taiwanese authorities against interfering in the matter.
  • April 12: A spokesperson for the ruling Democratic Progressive Party says President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) told senior officials the government was doing everything in its power to ensure Lee’s return.
  • April 26: The Chinese government said Lee Ming-che was in good health and that it had reassured his family in a letter.
  • April 28: The wife of a Taiwanese human rights activist detained in China for over a month without charge vowed to take her fight for justice to the U.S. and the European Union, urging them to pressure Beijing to release him.
  • May 14: A group seeking the release of Lee Ming-che flew to Washington to seek help from US officials and non-governmental organizations.
  • May 18: Lee Ching-yu appeared before a US House of Representatives committee hearing in Washington calling for her husband's release.
  • May 19: Protest rally held in Taipei marking 61 days since Lee Ming-che's disappearance.