July 6, 2015
Dear Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon and Under-Secretary-General, UN Women Executive Director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka,
We are the five feminist activists from China, Wu Rongrong (武嵘嵘), Wei Tingting (韦婷婷), Li Tingting (李婷婷), Wang Man (王曼) and Zheng Churan (郑楚然). We were detained on the eve of International Women’s Day in 2015 for planning events against sexual harassment on public transportation in China. Thanks to the national and international pressure on the Chinese government, we were released on bail in mid-April.
After our release, we learnt from the media that UN Women was deeply concerned with our case. As reported by the Reuters, UN Women “has been closely engaged with the developments throughout and welcomes the release of the five women from detention.” We are grateful for your support.
However, our case is not over. Even though the Haidian People’s Procuratorate in Beijing decided not to approve our formal arrest in April, for lack of evidence that we had committed any criminal offense, the police have not dropped our case. Since our release, we have been under investigation and strict surveillance as “criminal suspects.” Our travel and social activities have been restricted, and we have not been able to resume our NGO work. Organizations that supported us have been raided. Some have been threatened, and others have been forced to suspend their operations. Some of our supporters have been treated as suspects, too, and, among them, two male activists have recently been secretly detained on groundless charges.
The last few months have been the most depressing period for the Chinese feminist movement. We are witnessing a time when civil society in China is unable to continue to work with the Chinese government and the UN system as productive partners. This is an unexpected and shameful setback, as well as a historical mistake, on the 20th anniversary of the Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing.
All these years we have dedicated ourselves to ending gender-based violence and discrimination in China, and to promoting the wellbeing of disadvantaged groups, including young girls, the LGBT community, and women affected by AIDS, disability and poverty. We have earned recognition from the public in China for our efforts, and for our constructive communications, which have resulted in an improvement of gender-related policies. Our activities have resonated strongly with the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), the Beijing Declaration, and the Beijing Platform of Action. They have also contributed to good governance and social stability in China. The effective termination of our work, and the constraints on our political freedom, are not just our losses, but also losses for China’s society and government.
July 7 marks the fourth full month since our detention. The abuses we underwent are still too disturbing to cope with. We are writing to you, Mr. Pan and Ms. Mlambo-Ngcuka, to ask for your continued attention to our plight. It may be the case that our situation can only be solved through the Chinese legal system, but we believe that as a member state of the United Nations and a signatory to multiple human rights conventions, China will be willing to heed your recommendations. Please help us!
We thank you in advance. Our family and supporters also wish to convey their thanks.
Chinese Feminist Five:
Wei Tingting, Zheng Churan, Wu Rongrong, Li Tingting, and Wang Man
Contact the feminist five or their lawyers:
- Wu Rongrong : +86 18698558680
- Li Tingting: +86 18612707010
- Ge Wenxiu (Wei Tingting’s lawyer): +86 18028627307
- Liu Shuqing(Wu Rongrong’s lawyer):+86 13355415256
- Wang Yu (Li Tingting’s lawyer): +86 13911070328
Meet the 5 Female Activists China Detained, the New York Times, April 6, 2015.
Wu Rongrong: How I Became a Women’s Rights Advocate, April 27, 2015.
Chinese Officers Harshly Interrogated Women’s Rights Activist, Husband Says, the New York Times, April 27, 2015.