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Supporting Women’s Rights in China

Updated: April 14, 2016

On April 13, 2016, police authorities removed the restrictions placed on the five women’s activists since their “release upon guarantee pending further investigation (取保候审)” a year ago. The restrictions included a ban on travel and the requirement of a guarantor for personal conduct.

The police maintain that they are still investigating the women’s alleged crime of “gathering crowds to disrupt order in public places,” for which they were detained for 37 days in 2015. The women are: Li Tingting (李婷婷), Wu Rongrong (武嵘嵘), Zheng Churan (郑楚然), Wei Tingting (韦婷婷), and Wang Man (王曼).

They are among nine women's and LGBT rights advocates who were detained on March 6-7, 2015, in three cities across China—Beijing, Guangzhou, and Hangzhou—on the eve of International Women’s Day, March 8.

Following their initial detention, all five women were transferred to the Haidian District Criminal Detention Center (海淀看守所) in Beijing, where they were initially held under suspicion of “picking quarrels and provoking troubles” (寻衅滋事), a charge regularly used to silence civil society voices, and then under “gathering crowds to disrupt order in public places.”

During their detention, Wu Rongrong, who suffers from a chronic liver condition, had her medication confiscated, was forced to sleep on the floor, and was denied access to proper medical care for nearly two weeks. She was transferred to the medical facility of the No.2 Detention Center (第二看守所), also known as the "Public Security Hospital," in Beijing on March 19. Wang Man was subsequently transferred to the same location after experiencing heart complications following hours of interrogation. Wei Tingting and Zheng Churan, who are both severely near-sighted, were not allowed access to their glasses.

The women, who are well-known for their moderate, humorous, creative, and effective efforts to advance women’s and LGBT rights in China, received an outpouring of both domestic and international support—a testament to the importance of their work and the power of civil society.

Names of Women Detained and Status To Date

Released on April 13, 2015

  • Li Tingting (李婷婷), also known as Li Maizi (李麦子)
  • Wei Tingting (韦婷婷)
  • Zheng Churan (郑楚然), also known as Datu (大兔)
  • Wu Rongrong (武嵘嵘)
  • Wang Man (王曼)

Previously Released

  • Xu Ting (徐汀)
  • Yu Lian (于莲)
  • Ai Ke (艾可)
  • Gao Lei (高磊)

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Wang Man (王曼), Li Tingting (李婷婷), Wu Rongrong (武嵘嵘), Zheng Churan (郑楚然), and Wei Tingting (韦婷婷)

Building International Support
Civil Society Actions:

Countries should embrace those who work peacefully towards advancing rights of women & disadvantaged, not imprison them. #FreeBeijing20Five

— Samantha Power (@AmbassadorPower) April 14, 2015

China has conditionally released the #FreeBeijing20Five, but concerning they are still considered criminal suspects:

— Samantha Power (@AmbassadorPower) April 14, 2015

Delegation of the European Union to China, April 14, 2015

“The Delegation of the European Union to China takes note with relief of the release of the five women's rights defenders, who were detained on the grounds that they wanted to launch a campaign against sexual harassment on International Women's Day. . . .

“However, we regret that the investigation of their cases has not been withdrawn yet, as they are still subjected to "bail pending further investigation", which entails restrictions on their freedom of movement and communication. . . .”

Rights of women and girls should never be suppressed. We urge Chinese leaders to show respect for women's rights and #FreeBeijing20Five.

— Vice President Biden (@VP) April 11, 2015

U.S. Department of State, Statement by John Kerry, Secretary of State, April 10, 2015

“The United States strongly urges China to immediately and unconditionally release the “Beijing+20 Five” – Li Tingting, Wu Rongrong, Zheng Churan, Wei Tingting, and Wang Man… Each and every one of us has the right to speak out against sexual harassment and the many other injustices that millions of women and girls suffer around the world each and every day. We strongly support the efforts of these activists to make progress on these challenging issues, and we believe that Chinese authorities should also support them, not silence them.

U.S. Congress, Senators Marco Rubio, Barbara Boxer, Kelly Ayotte, and Jeanne Shaheen, April 9, 2015

“. . . According to the Constitution of the People’s Republic of China, citizens ‘enjoy freedom of speech, of the press, of assembly, of association, of procession and of demonstration’ and the state ‘respects and preserves human rights.’ The ongoing detention of these female activists who have championed gender equality and women’s rights calls into question China’s commitment to these principles. . . .”

The detention of women's activists in #China must end. This is inexcusable. #FreeBeijing20Five Read this story:

— Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) April 7, 2015

Canada, Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development, Statement by Honourable Deepak Obhrai, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs and for International Human Rights, March 25, 2015

“Canada is deeply concerned by the continued detention of five women for peacefully campaigning against sexual harassment. . . .

“Canada calls on the Government of China to release these women and to work with them and the international community to strengthen the rule of law and to advance the human rights of women.”

United Kingdom, Foreign & Commonwealth Office, Statement by the Spokesperson, March 24, 2015

“. . . We urge China to release all those detained for exercising their rights to freedom of expression, in line with China’s Constitution and international human rights commitments.”

European Union, External Action, Statement by the Spokesperson, March 23, 2015

“The recent arrest and detention of women’s rights activists in China on the grounds that they wanted to launch a campaign against sexual harassment on International Women's Day violates their right to demonstrate peacefully. We urge the Chinese authorities to release them immediately. . . . ”

U.S. Mission to the United Nations, Statement by Ambassador Samantha Power, March 20, 1015

“If China is committed to advancing the rights of women, then it should be working to address the issues raised by these women’s rights activists—not silencing them. The United States calls upon China to release immediately the Beijing+20 Five and partner with them to help ensure that men and women everywhere are able to live free from harassment and violence. . . .”

Welcome opportunity for #China to show its commitment to #Beijing20 by releasing women’s rights activists. #FreeBeijing20Five

— Keith Harper (@USAmbHRC) March 19, 2015

Concerned about limits on #FOEX, deteriorating sit. of civil society & detention of #WHRD #WuRongrong in #China says @UKMissionGeneva #HRC28

— Michael Ineichen (@IneichenM) March 17, 2015

In China speaking out against sexual harassment is “creating a disturbance.” Disturbance is restricting NGOs fighting for universal rights.

— Samantha Power (@AmbassadorPower) March 12, 2015

Chinese authorities should immediately release “Beijing+20 five.” Sad reflection on “women’s rights are human rights.” #FreeBeijing20Five

— Samantha Power (@AmbassadorPower) March 12, 2015

European Union Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Spokesperson, Statement on the arrest and detention of women’s rights activists in China, March 12, 2015

“We expect the Chinese authorities to release them without delay and to allow them immediate access to legal assistance and to their families.”


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