Taiwanese activist says he did forced labor in China but not tortured | world news
TAIPEI (Reuters) – A Taiwanese activist jailed in China said on Tuesday he had been subjected to forced labor and endured stale food while serving a five-year sentence, but was not had not been tortured.
Li Ming-che, a community college lecturer and human rights activist in Taiwan, disappeared during a visit to China in 2017.
Later that year, a Chinese court found him guilty of subversion. He was released from prison and returned to Taiwan last month.
Speaking to reporters from the Taiwanese parliament, Li said he was forced to make clothes, including shoes and gloves during his time in prison, working 11-12 hour days with a few days off, and that he was not allowed to speak to most of the other prisoners.
“It was totally a sweatshop,” he said.
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While the food was also stale, Li said he had not been tortured or “whipped”, but considered himself to have been “kidnapped” by the Chinese government.
China’s Taiwan Affairs Office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Li admitted during his trial to criticizing China’s ruling Communist Party and sharing articles and arguments promoting Taiwan’s multiparty democracy.
Li said he was only trying to help Chinese political prisoners and their families to make sure they didn’t end up in misery, and he was not allowed to defend himself during his trial, adding that he thought the charges against him were “laughable”.
When asked if he had anything to say to the Chinese government now that he was back in Taiwan and free, Li replied, “Taiwan and China are each a country on each side” of the Taiwan Strait. .
Beijing maintains that Taiwan is part of China and has never given up using force to bring it under its control, while democratic Taiwan has shown no interest in being ruled by Communist Party leaders in Beijing.
Li was tried alongside Chinese national Peng Yuhua, who confessed to creating instant messaging groups and founding an organization that sought to promote political change in China.
(Reporting by Ben Blanchard; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore)
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