Police Ask Chinese Prosecutors to Endorse Formal Arrest of Women’s Rights Activists

china-international-womens-day-march-2015.jpg The All-China Women's Federation hosts a reception for International Women's Day in Beijing, March 6, 2015.

Chinese police have requested that prosecutors endorse the formal arrest of five women’s rights activists detained in early March on charges of “creating disturbances” for planning an anti-sexual harassment campaign, an attorney for one of the women said on Tuesday.

The five women activists—Li Tingting, Wei Tingting, Wang Man, Zheng Churan and Wu Rongrong—had planned public protests against sexual harassment and domestic violence to mark international Women's Day on March 8 but were arrested for “picking quarrels and provoking trouble,” a charge that carries up to five years in prison. The five women have claimed that they did not break any laws.

Yan Xin, defense lawyer for Li Tingting, said the mental and physical conditions of the five women were pretty good.

He said Li Tingting had told him that during the preliminary arraignment, police said they had sent the files of all five people to the prosecutor, and prosecution authorities would decide whether to formally arrest them.

The cases of all five women have been reported to the procuratorate for permission for formal arrest and indictment, Yan Xin said.

He also said Li Tingting was psychologically ready for her possible formal arrest.

"She’ll say whatever comes out, either if she’s arrested or released,” he told RFA’s Mandarin Service. “She will deal with it calmly, but she insists that she is innocent.”

‘Cautiously optimistic’

Liang Xiaojun, the lawyer for activist Wu Rong, said he hoped that the prosecutor would not make a formal arrest.

"I feel cautiously optimistic that the five activists might be released on bail because they really did not do serious things and didn’t commit any crime,” he told RFA. “If the authorities formally arrest them, it would be ridiculous."

Former U.S. Secretary of State and presumed 2016 Democratic Party presidential frontrunner Hillary Clinton tweeted on Monday that China's detention of the five women's rights activists was "inexcusable."

In response, China called on other countries to respect its judicial sovereignty, and foreign ministry spokesman Hua Chunying said the matter was an internal affair, according to a Reuters report.

"I think this should have a positive effect, at least let the Chinese government to feel the pressure of public opinion of the international community," Yan Xin said about Clinton’s tweet.

Reported by Mandarin reporter Yang Fan of RFA’s Mandarin Service. Translated by Ping Chen. Written in English by Roseanne Gerin.


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