Almost a week after Taiwanese human rights advocate Lee Ming-Che appeared in a Chinese court for his trial, more than 250 people, including representatives from several human rights and civic organizations, gathered in Taipei this afternoon for a public protest, calling for the release of Lee. One organizer of the event emphasized that at a time when government decided to remain low-key on this issue, it is important for Taiwanese people to show their attitude towards this case.
Dr. Chen Fang-Ming, professor at National Cheng-Chi University’s Graduate Institute of Taiwanese Literature, argued that Lee’s actions and his values are what Taiwanese people have the responsibility to maintain for the island nation.
“We come out to protest today because we have to keep persevering despite the difficult situation right now,” said Chen. “We will keep expressing our concerns over Lee’s wellbeing until the day he safely returns to Taiwan.”
YiBee Huang, the Chairperson of Covenants Watch Taiwan, represented Lee’s wife to attend a session of the UN Working Group for Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances last week in Geneva, and she said that since the Chinese government hasn’t shared any update regarding Lee’s whereabouts since his court appearance on September 11th, the organization will continue to seek support for Lee’s freedom through the UN human rights mechanism.
Several speakers indicated that the forced imprisonment of Lee Ming-Che shows how important it is for Taiwanese people to consider threats to Taiwan’s democratic value from China as a national security problem while strengthening their awareness towards China’s attempt to erode Taiwan’s democratic system.
“This issue is really important to Taiwan’s sustainable development, and it is not just a personal issue, but a national issue,” said Liu Lu-Na from YS Taiwan. “If some Taiwanese people decide to remain silent over the oppression from China, then it simply means that they have agreed to tolerate the oppression. I don’t want to see the younger generation of Taiwanese people use such attitude to deal with injustice.”
To put civic engagement into practice, over 250 individuals wearing red and white t-shirts followed the instruction of volunteers to form the words “China! Free Li” at the Central Art Park, as cameras and drones tried to capture the precious moment from all angles. Just like what Miao Poya from the Social Democratic Party described during her speech, now is the time for Taiwanese people to be united and show the Chinese government how to build a democratic civil society.
“No matter how much China tries to bully us, we are all citizens of an autonomous country,” said Miao.
Lee Ming-Che’s case should serve as a reminder to all Taiwanese people that China will do whatever it takes to oppress those who try to help spread democratic values to China, and remaining silent towards their aggressive attempts to threaten the practices of democracy is to acknowledge the legitimacy of their authoritarian style of ruling. At a time when international support for Taiwan comes under serious threats from China, our commitment to defending the democratic values that define us as a country becomes more crucial than ever.
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