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Five Young Feminists Still Missing in China

Categories: Legal Threats, Threatened Voices, Women-Gender, China
Five young women have been missing for more than a week. Photo from Free Chinese Feminists Facebook group.

Five young women have been missing for more than a week. Photo from Free Chinese Feminists Facebook group.

The five young women who were arrested by Chinese police ahead of the International Women's Day [1] have now been missing for more than one week. On 12 March they were criminally detained on suspicion of “picking quarrels and provoking troubles” but the police refused to reveal further information.

Civic groups in Hong Kong will protest to representatives of the mainland Chinese government in the city on March 21 demanding their release.

The five women's rights activists are Wu Rongrong, Wei Tingting , Wang Man, Zheng Churan and Li Tingting, also known as Li Maizi. Their families and lawyers have been unable to reach them since their detention and police are refusing to provide any details on their arrest.

Both the United States and the European Union have expressed concern on the Five. U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, Samantha Power, criticized the Chinese authorities for arresting the Five under the premise that they planned  to cause disturbances:

A spokesman for EU Foreign Affairs and Security Policy also made a statement [5] urging China to release the young feminists immediately and to give them access to legal assistance.

A woman worker from mainland China holding a placard and calling for the release of the Five. Photo from Free Chinese Feminists. [6]

A woman worker from mainland China holding a placard and calling for the release of the Five. Photo from Free Chinese Feminists.

Despite hostile political conditions, women, students and workers’ organizations from mainland Chinese [7] continue to speak out for the release of the five by uploading photos on social media and signing petitions.

And Chinese authorities are keeping track of the names on the petitions. @swye105 reported on Twitter:

Outside China, feminist and civic groups from all over the world have condemned the Chinese authorities’ brutal crackdown. Amnesty International has launched a campaign page on Tumblr [10] and a Twitter tag #FreeTheFive to collect supporting messages and pictures from all over the world.

Ad hoc feminist group, Free Chinese Feminists, launched a signature campaign [11] and a postcard campaign [12]. The group urged supporters to send the postcard to Beijing police demanding the release of the Five.

Send a postcard to Beijing Police demanding the release of the Five. Photo from Free Chinese Feminists. [13]

Send a postcard to Beijing Police demanding the release of the Five. Photo from Free Chinese Feminists.

In Malaysia, a country with a large Chinese population, 26 organizations from local civil society co-signed [5] a statement condemning the Chinese authorities and expressing concern over the safety of the young feminists.

Taiwan feminist groups expressed their outrage over the arrest and urged their President Ma Ying Jeou [14] to include issues related to human rights and gender equity onto the agenda of the cross-strait dialogue.

Since Chinese authorities continue to play dumb amid criticism, a number of civic groups in Hong Kong have decided to protest [15] in front of the Liaison Office of the Central People's Government and present a statement signed [16] by 50 local civic groups and 2,500 individuals on March 21.

Currently the 59th session of the Commission on the Status of Women is taking place at the United Nations Headquarters in New York [17] to review the challenges that affect the implementation of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action [18], which stands for gender equality and female empowerment. The detention of the five feminists in Beijing has now become a case study on the barriers to achieving those aims.