A coalition of eight Taiwanese rights groups has called on China to release detained dissidents ahead of Lunar New Year later this week.
The group gathered beneath the Liberty Square Arch in Taipei on Monday evening to pray and light lanterns for activists and lawyers detained by Chinese authorities. They include Taiwanese pro-democracy activist Li Ming-che, who has been held since 2017, and the 12 Hong Kong activists who tried to flee via speedboat to Taiwan last August but were captured at sea.
Eight of the 12 were jailed for seven months for illegal entry, two were sentenced to separate sentences of two and three years for organising the trip, and two minors were returned to Hong Kong to face pending charges.
“This is a New Year’s campaign for human right defenders in China, including Taiwanese activist Li Ming-che and the 12 Hongkongers, and also human rights lawyers,” the Director of Amnesty International Taiwan, Eeling Chiu, told HKFP.
“They cannot spend time with their families during the Lunar New Year, so we want to raise awareness and tell the Chinese government and the whole of society that we did not forget them.”
Chiu also urged the public to remember those stripped of their liberty and freedoms in the fight for human rights and democracy. “Please remember their sacrifice.”
A spokesperson for the civic group Hong Kong Outlanders which represents Hongkongers in Taiwan, who asked to be identified only as Justine, urged people to remember the thousands of protesters detained during and after Hong Kong’s 2019 pro-democracy protests.
She also cited the two mainland Chinese human rights lawyers who lost their licences earlier this year after attempting to represent the 12.
She expressed her gratitude to the Taiwanese people who have offered Hongkongers support and welcomed them.
The group shouted goodwill messages for detainees for the coming new year as well as the pro-democracy slogan now banned in Hong Kong under the national security law: “Liberate Hong Kong, revolution of our times.”
“Here in Taiwan, we can still voice out for those who are being oppressed in China,” another spokesperson said.
Other rights groups present included the Taiwan Association for Human Rights, Taiwan Hong Kong Association, Judicial Reform Foundation, Taiwan Support China Human Rights Lawyers Network, Covenants Watch and New School for Democracy.