الأربعاء , يونيو 17 2020

China frees women's rights activists

Women activist Wei Tingting, 26, poses for a photograph with letters and a paper which read push ahead legal advocacy, request information disclosure, domestic violence should be punished by law! in this undated file handout picture taken in an unknown location in China, provided by a women's rights group on 8 April 2015

Wei Tingting, seen here in an undated photo

Chinese police have freed three women’s rights activists who were held for more than a month, in a case that sparked an international outcry.

A lawyer for Wei Tingting, Wang Man and Zheng Churan said they were not charged but their release was conditional.

The women, who were detained shortly before International Women’s Day on 8 March, had planned protests against sexual harassment on public transport.

The fate of two other women arrested at the same time is not yet clear.

Their release came as China said it lodged a formal complaint to the US over a statement by Secretary of State John Kerry over the weekend.

Mr Kerry urged for an “unconditional” release of the detainees.

This year International Women’s Day coincided with China’s annual parliamentary session, which usually has tight security and the police regularly detain activists in the lead-up to high-profile events deemed more sensitive.

Among the activities which the activists had planned were a march in a Beijing park where participants would wear stickers advocating safe sex and action against sexual harassment; and gatherings in Beijing and Guangzhou calling for awareness of sexual harassment on buses.

Women activist Zheng Churan, 25, poses for a photograph with papers which read Women graduates are talented, only hiring men is frustrating (top) and I invite the head of Human Resources and Social Security department to go to the job market with me, in this undated file handout picture taken in an unknown location in China, provided by a womens rights group on 8 April 2015.

Zheng Churan, seen in this undated photo with a sign protesting the availability of jobs for female graduates

Women activist Wang Man, 32, poses with a paper in this undated file handout picture taken in an unknown location in China, provided by a women's rights group on 8 April 2015.

Wang Man, seen here in an undated photo

In his statement issued on Friday, Mr Kerry asked China to “immediately and unconditionally” free the women.

He said the women were organising a “peaceful campaign” against sexual harassment and to promote gender equality.

On Monday, China’s foreign affairs spokesman Hong Lei said China lodged representations with the US over Mr Kerry’s comments.

“China is a country of rule of law and runs the country according to the law. Everyone is equal before the law. China’s legal authorities will handle this case in accordance with the law.”

“We urge the United States to respect China’s judicial sovereignty and not use any pretext to interfere in China’s internal affairs.”

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