誰是李明哲？ Who is Lee Ming-che?
李 明 哲 Li Ming-Che
Lee Ming-che (李明哲) was born in February 1975, in Taipei, Taiwan, and is his family’s only child. In 2015, Lee Ming-che married Lee Ching-yu (李凈瑜). Lee currently works as an academic manager at Wenshan Community College in Taipei City.
經歷 Work History
In the year 2000, Lee graduated from Chinese Culture University with a degree in philosophy. During his time at the university, Lee and his wife Lee Ching-yu participated in protests against high tuition, and has participated in social movements ever since.
In July 2000, he worked as an assistant to former Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) legislator Hsu Chung Pi-hsia (許鍾碧霞).
In June 2002, he worked as an assistant for Hsieh Ming-ta’s (謝明達) election campaign for Taipei City councillor.
In May 2003, he worked at the DPP’s Department of Social Development as a special assistant at the party’s headquarters.
In June 2007, he served as office secretary for the Council of Labour Affairs under the Executive Yuan.
In July 2008, he worked as an assistant chairman for a catering company.
In June 2010, he was a member of Tsai Ing-wen’s campaign staff during her run for mayor of New Taipei City.
In April 2011, he worked as executive director of the DPP’s Hsinchu County party offices.
In September 2012, he worked as a secretary for the National Labour Alliance.
Before 2014, Lee got to know a number of friends in China through the instant-messaging app “Wechat”, and would arrange to meet with them once a week. Through Wechat’s group chat feature, Lee would introduce Taiwan’s historical experiences, from Taiwan’s White Terror Period, to issues of transitional justice.
In January 2014, he served as a special assistant for the New Taiwanese Cultural Foundation, and was responsible for collecting data and information about transitional justice, and for organizing activities.
In 2015, his Wechat account was blocked from using the group chat feature. If friends of Lee in China wanted to read about human rights or modern history, Lee would proactively send books as gifts.
From 2015 to January 2016, Lee began volunteering for Covenants Watch, an organization that monitors and pressures the government to fulfill its obligations on human rights.
From January to June 2016, Lee joined Beyond Gender: The Intersex, Transgender and Transexual People Care Association as a volunteer.
In February 2016, he started working as an academic manager for Wenshan Community College, and is responsible for social science and arts curriculum planning. Lee was also responsible for planning lectures on human rights and democracy issues; he put forward a community education project called: “Renewing Our Understanding of Taiwan from a Global Perspective.”
Before and after the 2016 Lunar New Years period, Lee called on friends through Wechat to raise funds for the family of a Chinese civil rights activist.
In August 2016, books he sent as gifts to friends in China were confiscated.
On March 19th 2017, Lee went missing after entering into China’s Gongbei Port from the city of Macau.
On March 29th 2017, after ten days of forced abduction, China’s Taiwan Affairs Office finally admitted that he was in custody, and said that Lee had “accepted the relevant department’s investigation due to suspected activities that endanger national security.”
So far, Chinese authorities have not yet contacted his family, nor has it stated the grounds for his detention. Lee suffers from high-blood pressure, and must take regular medication for his health condition. His family worries about his his current health status.
李明哲自述 Lee Ming-che’s Self-description
“My interest in public affairs arose when I was in university. In addition to extra-curricular activities, I would also participate in political discussion groups. But also because of those activities, fate would have a way of building my interest in public affairs.”
“With more than ten years of work experience, I feel most strongly about the serious imbalance in social development. Matters that should be at the root of personal development, such as culture, education and community work, are frequently overlooked. Society begins to polarize when superficial matters receive an abundance of attention, while issues that need timely assistance and resources aren’t paid attention to. Underprivileged industries or groups on society’s periphery thus become even weaker and more marginalized.”
“After finishing my work in politics in 2012, I decided to start over again and wouldn’t confine myself solely to political work due to these ideas. I started working with underprivileged groups and labour groups. I wanted to move from being a bystander, to an actual participant. This experience allowed me to see the sacrifices my past colleagues had made to achieve their ideals, and the bright side of the sacrifices made in the service of underprivileged groups. I also saw the plight of workers who have been overlooked by economic development.”
“After my work with labour groups came to a close, I joined the New Taiwanese Culture Foundation as a historical researcher. Because the government often monopolizes power over historical language and has allowed historical files on transitional justice to gather dust, the differences in power between government and civic society has grown increasingly larger. My past thinking on transitional justice has only grown more firm as I gain a deeper understanding of its relation to the current political situation, and I will persist in my work in the NGO sector. Normal democratic societies aren’t looking forward to a government that can “expand its scope” or is more “omnipotent”. Instead, the ability for the people to build a “civic society” that operates autonomously and matures sturdily is much more significant. Civic societies can act as a powerful balance to political figures who hold tremendous power and influence. This is the true direction that Taiwan should follow.”
“I hope I can continue to work for Taiwan’s civic society, and to learn how to build a solid societal foundation by first working with local communities.”