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Concerns Grow For Prominent Feminist, Labor Activist Held in Beijing

A New York-based rights group says it is concerned about the fate of the women’s rights and labor activist Li Qiaochu, who also happens to be the partner of detained New Citizens’ Movement founder Xu Zhiyong.

Li was detained by Beijing police early on the morning of Feb. 16, Human Rights Watch (HRW) said in a news article on its website.

“It is unclear where she is now and with what crime she has been charged,” the group said.

While some media, including RFA, have reported Li’s “disappearance” soon after her partner Xu was detained in Guangzhou, HRW said Li is a prominent activist in her own right.

“What has often been overlooked is Li’s own tireless work on social justice issues, and the repeated police harassment and intimidation she has endured,” it said.

On Jan. 24, Li commented via her Twitter account on the attempted cover-up by authorities in the central province of Hubei of the emerging COVID-19 epidemic.

“Please can we remember those who suffered, died, and those who died before they even had time to become a statistic,” she wrote.

“We shouldn’t be singing anyone’s praises during this time of disaster; rather we should collectively participate in chasing those who were so careless with people’s lives.”

Li worked to find accommodation for thousands of migrant workers forcibly evicted from their homes by authorities in Beijing during a bitterly cold winter in 2017.

She played an active role in China’s #MeToo movement, collating and publishing reports of sexual harassment and abuse online, HRW said.

Li had also joined a volunteer team that handed out free masks to sanitation workers in Beijing, and helped pregnant women in quarantine areas to find doctors.

She also worked to support victims of domestic violence, which saw a nationwide spike after hundreds of millions of people were placed under draconian quarantine lockdowns in central China.

“In the past several years, despite the government of Xi Jinping’s ever-tightening grip on civil society, countless people have chosen to embrace one of China’s toughest life paths – challenging the powerful authoritarian government,” HRW said.

(Reported by RFA’s Mandarin and Cantonese Services. Translated and edited by Luisetta Mudie.)

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