JOINT STATEMENT:China’s Arbitrary Transfer of Li Ming-Che Constitutes the Violation of Fundamental International Human Rights

Today is the 586th days after the forced disappearance of Li Ming-Che, a Taiwanese human rights defender, by China. It has been more than one and half years since his arbitration detention. He was convicted for subversion of state power and is now serving his five-year term in China. The wife of Li Ming-Che, Mrs. Li Ching-Yu, has already been to China five times this year, in March, May, June, July and September, to visit her husband and found out him losing much weight. Moreover, he has had no way to communicate with his family or friends neither by phone nor by letters. As for Li’s health conditions, especially his high blood pressure, no follow-up has been made by a professional doctor.

All the organizations in the Li Ming-Che Rescue Committee once again strongly call on China to release Li Ming-Che immediately and not to restrict his right to communicate with others and his family’s right to visit him in prison. In parallel, we strongly demand a clear explanation of Li’s health condition by the Chinese authority.

As Li Ching-Yu made a plan to visit her husband on October 19, the Straits Exchange Foundation (SEF) was informed by a Taiwanese Chamber of Commerce of the unexpected transfer of Li Ming-Che to another prison. This transfer made it impossible for Mrs. Li to take the planned trip. Up until now, Li’s family has never received any kind of written “notice” by the Chinese government. This omission has violated Article 20 of PRC’s Prison Act, which stipulates the compulsory notification to the family within five days by the prison management when a prisoner is put in that prison.

Furthermore, Chinese authority has not provided any explanation about the exact date of the transfer and the reasons why he was transferred from Chishan Prison in Hunan Province to Yancheng Prison in Hebei Province. According to some online information, Yancheng Prison is a base to experiment Chinese prison transformation programs. Chinese Justice Minister has expressed that Yancheng Prison would be the center for the quality improvement of criminal re-education. Plus, Articles 47 and 48 of the PRC Prison Act guarantee the right of communication of prisoners and the right of family and guardians to in-prison visits. The action of Chinese authority to prevent Li Ming-Che from actively communicating with family and others clearly has violated its own law and regulations.

Article 68 of the United Nations Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners (SMRs: known as the Mandela Rules) says that “Every prisoner shall have the right, and shall be given the ability and means, to inform immediately his or her family, or any other person designated as a contact person, about his or her imprisonment, about his or her transfer to another institution and about any serious illness or injury.” Again, China has clearly violated this standard of “the minimum rules” in this regard as well.

On November 6 this year, China will undergo the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) at the United Nations and receive recommendations for domestic actions on human rights from each Member State. During the UPRs in the previous cycles of 2009 and 2013, China received 422 recommendations for human rights improvement from other Member States. Nonetheless, when we look at China's actual performance in human rights, the improvement has been extremely limited. In the 2018 UPR national report submitted by China, the Chinese government tried to conceal their suppression of minority peoples' rights to cultural and linguistic identity with selective and inequitable economic growth. Furthermore, they have claimed that a large number of laws related to civil and political rights have been amended in the past years. However, what makes us anxious is that, despite these amendments, the new laws and regulations still severely violate the international human rights standards. The human rights advancement which China boasts is merely a legal delusion to hide the evil truth, and definitely not a genuine rule of law.

As the 3rd cycle UPR on China approaches, it is the first time that the OHCHR makes references to two reports submitted by Taiwanese human rights in their summary of stakeholder information. One of them is a joint submission by the Taiwan Association for Human Rights and International Federation for Human Rights (fidh), the other being an individual submission by Covenants Watch Taiwan. Taiwanese civil groups will also participate in a series of demonstrations on November 6th outside the Palais des Nations in Geneva with all the other civil society groups from all over the world to highlight and honor the victims of human rights violations by China and urge the world to stand in solidarity to push China into being a responsible actor and respect human rights.

[Participating Associations for this Joint Statement]

Li Ming-Che Rescue Committee

Taiwan Association for Human Rights

Covenants Watch Taiwan

Human Rights Network for Tibet and Taiwan

Taiwan International Medical Alliance

Dr. Chen Wen-Chen Memorial Foundation

Youth Synergy Taiwan Foundation

Association for Taiwan Indigenous Peoples' Policy

New School for Democracy

Taiwan Association of University Professors

Taiwan Labour Front

Taiwan Health Right Initiative

Presbyterian Church in Taiwan

Congressional Investigation Corps

Tsai Jui-Yueh Dance Foundation

Nylon Cheng Liberty Foundation

Judicial Reform Foundation

Prison Watch

Wenshan Community College

Taiwan Alliance to End the Death Penalty

Taiwan Association Truth and Reconciliation