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Asia Today ISSN 1861-4604 Tuesday, August 14, 2018

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Chinese Feminists Held 'Illegally' Beyond Time-Limit For Criminal Detention: Lawyers

Fellow activists for their release

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The five Chinese feminists detained on International Women's Day are now being held illegally, their lawyers said on Wednesday, amid campaigns by fellow activists for their release.

Li Tingting, Wei Tingting, Wang Man, Zheng Churan and Wu Rongrong were detained as they prepared to launch a public transport leafleting and sticker campaign against sexual harassment and domestic violence on March 8.

The five, who say they didn't break any Chinese law, face charges of "picking quarrels and stirring up trouble," which can result in up to five years in prison.

As of Tuesday, they have been held over the legal time limit for criminal detention in the absence of approval of their formal arrest by the state prosecutor, one of their lawyers said.

"There is a 30-day limit for criminal detention set down in law, and that passed yesterday," Wu Rongrong's lawyer Liang Xiaojun told RFA.

"The case should have been passed to the procuratorate by now, but it hasn't yet," he said. "The prosecutor says they haven't received this case."

"It's up to the procuratorate to decide whether the case moves forward in the legal system [to trial]," Liang said.

Wu's friend Ye Jinghuan said she is very concerned that the women are at risk of having "disappeared" by the authorities in prolonged extrajudicial detention.

"A lot of people have disappeared in the past, and nobody knows where they are," Ye said. "The police could say they have already released them, but they could get locked up somewhere else, and continue to be held in a black jail."

"This is a serious problem, because the fact that they haven't moved the case to the prosecution suggests that no 'picking quarrels and stirring up trouble' actually took place," Wu said.

Protest actions

Meanwhile, a group of women's rights activists in the southern city of Guangzhou staged protest actions this week to call for the women's release, posting photos of themselves posing in public places wearing photo masks of the five detained women.

One of the activists, who identified herself only by the nickname Bianbian, said the women's detentions came amid a nationwide crackdown on nongovernmental groups and grassroots charity organizations.

"They have been detaining some activists and trying to get evidence [about the five women] from them," Bianbian said. "The bigger Chinese cities have a network of surveillance cameras every 10 meters ... and this makes us feel threatened, because one day we could go out, and the next day we could get detained [like our comrades]."

Bianbian said the activists had appeared in public places, including parks, restaurants, malls and markets, wearing the faces of the five detained women, as a form of public protest.

Lawsuit against police

Meanwhile, the husband of detained Guangdong women's rights activist Su Changlan is suing local police for information about his wife's health after a lack of movement in her case, his lawyer said.

Su was detained last October by police in Guandong's Foshan city on suspicion of "incitement to subvert state power" after she took part in activities supporting Hong Kong's Occupy Central pro-democracy movement.

"This case has been at the investigative stage for a very long time now," rights lawyer Liu Xiaoyuan said on Wednesday, adding that Su's husband Chen Dequan has submitted a freedom of information request to the Foshan municipal state security police asking for details of his wife's health.

"How could the investigation have dragged on this long, for five months?" Liu said. "They won't allow me to meet with my client, and they won't give me any update on Su Changlan's case, nor explain how she is actually supposed to have harmed state security."

"They won't explain it to me. I am her defense lawyer, and yet I have no way to gain an understanding of the case against her, so how can I make an argument?"

Copyright 1998-2014, RFA. Published with the permission of Radio Free Asia, 2025 M St. NW, Suite 300, Washington DC 20036

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