China: Authorities must immediately release the Feminist Five


Chinese authorities must immediately and unconditionally release five women human rights defenders imprisoned in connection with their work to eliminate sexual harassment in the country, said ISHR. 

(Update - 14 April 2015) - ISHR welcomes reports that the five Chinese women human rights defenders detained on 6 March 2015 in association with their work to promote women's rights and combat sexual discrimination and harassment were released without charge on 13 April 2015.

ISHR is concerned, however, at reports that criminal investigations into the women's activities are ongoing and that they will be monitored and may be subject to travel restrictions.

'ISHR welcomes the decision of the Chinese authorities to release Wei Tingting, Wang Man, Li Tingting, Zheng Churan and Wu Rongrong without charge. ISHR unequivocally condemns, however, the fact that they were arbitrarily detained for over a month in connection with the work to defend human rights and in violation of international human rights standards. In accordance with both the Universal Declaration on Human Rights and the Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, China should respect the rights to freedom of expression, association and assembly and immediately and unconditionally release all persons detained in connection with the exercise of those rights,' ISHR's Pooja Patel said.

The women's release came after a concerted campaign by both international and Chinese human rights groups, including ISHR and its partner organisation Chinese Human Rights Defenders, and public statements by high-level officials including US Secretary of State John Kerry.


(Geneva) - The recent arrests of five young women human rights defenders in China shows a intensifying clampdown on women’s rights activists in the country, said the International Service for Human Rights today.

Wei Tingting, Wang Man, Li Tingting (aka Li Maizi), Zheng Churan (aka 'Da Tu') and Wu Rongrong were criminally detained on 6 March 2015 on suspicion of ‘picking quarrels and provoking troubles’, a charge often used in China to suppress human rights defenders.

The five women human rights defenders, who are members of China’s Women’s Rights Action Group, had carried out activities in connection with International Women’s Day to protest sexual harassment, including printing stickers with slogans such as ‘stop sexual harassment, let us stay safe’ and ‘go police, go arrest those who committed sexual harassment!’

If convicted, each could face a maximum of five years in prison.

The Women Human Rights Defenders International Coalition (WHRDIC) called on Wang Xiaohong, the Director of the Beijing Municipal Public Security Bureau, Chairman Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang to immediately and unconditionally ensure the release the five women activists (Chinese version 中文版本).

The WHRDIC also drew urgent attention to the urgent medical care required by Wu Rongrong, who suffers from chronic liver problems which have worsened in detention.

As of 2 April, reportedly, none of their family members had received formal notification of their detentions except Zheng Churan, which contravenes article 83 of China’s Criminal Procedure Law.

‘Human rights defenders have been persistently targeted for their work in China. The arrests of the five feminist activists indicates that there is an increasing move to suppress the women’s rights movement in the country,' said Pooja Patel of ISHR.

A number of other women human rights defenders have faced arbitrary arrests, judicial harassment, intimidation and even death for their work to defend human rights. Cao Shunli died on 14 March 2014 after being denied medical treatment while in detention. Her arrest had been in connection with her engagement with the UN’s Universal Periodic Review process. Meanwhile, many other women human rights defenders are in jail, detained, under house arrest or otherwise harassed by the authorities in China. Most noteably, Han Ying, Jia Lingmin, Liu Ping and Su Changlan are at risk because of their activism to defend human rights, the statement said.

‘These arrests and ongoing crackdowns on the activities of women human rights defenders seriously undermine China’s leadership in organising the Global Leader’s Conference on Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment in September this year,' said Pooja Patel. ‘China must show its genuine will to uphold the principles set out in the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action and implement its provisions at home. Criminalising activists who are seeking to advance women’s rights as set out in this important instrument is inconsistent with this,’ Ms Patel added.

Contact: Pooja Patel,


  • Asia
  • Freedom of expression, association and assembly
  • Human rights defenders
  • LGBT rights
  • Women's rights and WHRD
  • China