Target: Li Keqiang, Premier of China’s State Council
Goal: Release Swedish bookseller from custody in China where he has been detained without formal charges.
Swedish bookseller Gui Minhai disappeared from Thailand a year ago, and resurfaced in custody in China, in what appears to be an enforced disappearance and detention orchestrated by the Chinese government with little explanation. Gui and four other bookseller colleagues from Thailand, Hong Kong, and China were detained on the mainland under unclear circumstances, but only Gui still remains in custody.
Gui co-owns the Hong Kong Mighty Current publishing house, which prints books about political intrigues on the mainland. After his disappearance and subsequent detention in China, Swedish diplomats were reportedly only allowed two brief visits with him and neither they nor his family were informed of where he is being detained, nor of any formal charges against him. This qualifies as an enforced disappearance, which international law defines as an arrest or detention followed by a refusal to reveal the person’s whereabouts or fate, or to acknowledge their deprivation of liberty. Enforced disappearances cause an immense amount of suffering to the family of the person detained, and violate an array of human rights which international laws protect against, such as arbitrary arrest and detention, torture and and other abusive treatment, and even execution.
Media reports said that Gui was being investigated for unspecified criminal activities, and broadcast a “confession” by Gui stating he had traveled to the mainland voluntarily to face charges relating to a drunk-driving incident. However, one of the other booksellers who was released subsequently held a news conference in Hong Kong, in which he stated that he was forced to read a scripted “confession” and was interrogated about the publisher’s operations, leading many to believe that the reason these booksellers were targeted was their sale of politically opinionated material about the mainland.
Gui Minhai’s detention is a violation of law and human rights in more ways than one. The government of the mainland does not have jurisdiction in Thailand and is not supposed to be allowed to operate there, which would make Gui’s alleged abduction illegal. His enforced disappearance and detention for over a year is a miscarriage of justice. Sign below and demand Gui Minhai’s release and that the Chinese government respect human rights.
Dear Premier Li,
The detention in the mainland of Gui Minhai, the Swedish bookseller and co-owner of the Hong Kong Mighty Current publishing house, is a violation of human rights. He has been in custody for over a year, and he must be released.
Since Gui’s disappearance from Thailand, he been detained in China and only allowed two brief visits with Swedish diplomats. Neither those diplomats nor his family have been informed of any formal charges against him, or of the location where he is being detained. This qualifies his detention as an enforced disappearance, which is defined by international law as a refusal to acknowledge deprivation of liberty or to reveal a person’s whereabouts or fate following his arrest or detention. International law includes prohibitions against arbitrary arrest or detention and protects many other human rights that enforced disappearances often violate.
Without any charges against him, it is a miscarriage of justice to continue to detain Gui. His rights and the rights of his family to know where their loved one is, and whether he is safe, are being disregarded. It is the job of the government to protect the rights of the people and to be transparent about its actions. I urge you to release Gui Minhai immediately.
[Your Name Here]
Photo Credit: Kacey Wong