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Five Young Feminists Still Missing in 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 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 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.

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 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 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 and a postcard campaign. 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.

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 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 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 in front of the Liaison Office of the Central People's Government and present a statement signed 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 to review the challenges that affect the implementation of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, 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.

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  • John H Newcomb

    Hope that these women are released immediately! China has almost as poor rule of law as Russia: http://data.worldjusticeproject.org/

  • eiji

    another anti CHINA propaganda on US media ,propagated by USA based NGO , USA official

    USA regime is promoting anti china sentiment for their NATIONALISM

    these activist been arrested for “picking quarrels and provoking troubles” , – they break the law.
    US had similar law ( public order act )

    it has nothing to do with their advocacy for feminism , their identity as female.

    USA regime detain many black protester in Ferguson. ( who fight for justice)

    why there are NO international pressure, campaign for black kid in ferguson?

    why this USA based NGO does not sell such narrative – these activist who demand justice, rule of law in USA been charged , detained.?

    maybe samantha power can post such twitter

    only IN USA, people who speak up against USA spying program been labelled as TRAITOR, TREASON.
    where are SNOWDEN?

    • mac

      This is not anti-China propaganda. This is anti-dictatorship propaganda. Public order legislation (as well as sedition laws) are always used in dictatorships to incarcerate and torture legal opponents.

      As for the other points you raise, clearly the Chinese firewall prevents you from reading a lot of news.
      – There IS national and international pressure on US authorities for events that happened in Ferguson.
      – As for your question about Snowden – he is currently in Moscow and negotiating his return to the US.

      The US is not perfect, but it is definitely not a dictatorship like China.

    • JB Wilson

      Why do I get the feeling that eiji is a Chinese propaganda-peddler for the communist regime?

  • eiji

    women in china enjoy more right, more freedom than any women in US.

    why USA based NGO say nothing about female driver been detained, jailed in saudi kingdom?

    why USA based NGO say nothing about latest survey which suggest that 80% women in US had subjected to rape crime.?

    land of freedom? land for rapist?

    • mac

      This depends on your definition of freedom – but in general the US is a more free country than China and that applies to gender too. The US may not be perfect, but in the US women can vote and they can have more than one child. China is a bit behind there.

      As for sexual violence in the US and China – do you know of any reports about the same topic in China we could use as a comparison? Often the Chinese government prevents people to look into these topics, which is typically not the case in the US. Also, it would be nice if you could provide the link to the US study you refer to – because 80% sounds extreme and unrealistic.

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