Lee Ching-yu hopes for US, EU support to get justice for husband held by Beijing

World | 28 Apr 2017 5:49 pm

Lee Ching-yu the wife of a Taiwanese human rights activist detained by Beijing for more than a month without charge says she will seek support in the United States and the European Union, to help secure his release him.

She told The Guardian: "It is only through international support that we can force a country that encroaches on human rights to stop this action.''

It was her first interview with the British press. She intends to seek help in Washington DC and Brussels next month.

Under standard Chinese criminal law, Lee’s husband should have been charged or released on Monday, after 37 days in custody, The Guardian reports.

It has now been 40 days since Lee Ching-yu’s "partner, best friend and confidante” suddenly disappeared while travelling to visit friends in Guangzhou.

With little government support, she has fended off unidentified "brokers” offering help through unofficial channels.

One suggested her silence and inaction might buy her husband’s freedom, or at least spare him the humiliation of a video confession. But Lee has refused to strike a backroom deal, The Guardian reports.

She is defiant but the strain of her ordeal has made her visibly more gaunt and she frequently fights back tears. "I have to keep a strong face in front of the media, but when I see my husband’s photo I get very emotional,” she said. 

The couple met at college 20 years ago and were drawn to each other through a shared passion for human rights.

Lee Ching-yu became a researcher at the Shin Ming-te foundation, studying the history of Taiwan’s own dark period of martial law, when thousands were disappeared. Her work both gives her strength and haunts her. "I can imagine what my husband might have gone through,” she said.

Lee Ming-che kept his human rights work low key. Supporters believe he may have been targeted after speaking openly on Chinese messaging service WeChat about Taiwanese democracy, The Guardian reports.

"The values and beliefs that my husband holds and spreads would not be charged in any democratic or civilised country,” said Lee.

She broke down describing how he had tried to help the poverty-stricken families of Chinese activists, imprisoned for their beliefs.

"At least I know my husband is alive,” she said. "Others who disappear don’t receive the same media attention and they might be in more danger. When I realise how severe the situation in China is, it’s hard to stay calm.”

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