[The] five of them — core members of China’s new feminist movement — sit in jail, accused of provoking social instability. One of the women, Wu Rongrong, 30, an AIDS activist, is said to be ailing after the police withheld the medication she takes for hepatitis. Another, Wang Man, 33, a gender researcher, was said to have had a mild heart attack while in custody.
The protestors’ detention has attracted international outcry, from political and human rights leaders to feminist activists who are demanding the women’s release.
“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,” said Samantha Power, the American ambassador to the United Nations.
From Morocco to India to New York, supporters have been posting images of themselves wearing masks that bear the photos of the jailed women. Because two of the detainees are lesbian and another is bisexual, overseas gay rights organizations like All Out have jumped into the fray, collecting more than 85,000 signatures and popularizing the hashtag #freethefive on Twitter.
However, the Chinese government has virtually ignored the outrage, keeping the protestors under lock and key while they await trial.
In addition to denying the women medication, the authorities failed to notify their families about the detentions, and in one instance, the police sat in on a meeting between Ms. Wei and her lawyer, Wang Qiushi.
“The interrogations have been exhausting,” Mr. Wang said by phone. “The police keep asking her the same questions over and over again and are pressuring her to sign a confession, which she refuses to do because she has not broken any law.”
Image via AP