You wouldn’t think that doing peaceful protests calling for improved public rest rooms or to encourage women to stand up against domestic violence would land you in trouble, but that’s what has happened to five young women in China.
Now known as the Beijing five, these women have been detained in awful conditions in the Haidian District Detention Center because they were preparing to do protests to mark International Women’s Day, March 8.
Authorities have said that the women—Wang Man, Wei Tingting, Zheng Chura, Li Tingting, and Wu Rongrong—have been detained for “picking quarrels and provoking troubles.”
No formal chargers have been filed, but the five young women might end up behind bars for five years.
It will just depend on the mood of the communist authorities.
“Those five kids are so moderate,” Ye Jinghuan, a friend and fellow activist said in the above CBS News video. “They were never radical or violent.”
Ye said the conditions inside the detention facility were dire.
“Words could not describe the misery,” Ye explained. “Under such mental pressure, people confess easily whether they committed a crime or not.”
“If such moderate people merely promoting gender equality are cracked down on so harshly, I don’t think there is any hope in the rule of law, democracy, or a civil society,” said Ye.
Samantha Power, the U.S. Ambassador to the U.N., has urged the Chinese authorities to release the five women. There is also a social media campaign supporting the women using the hashtag #freethefive, if you want to find out more.
By law, Chinese authorities have until April 13 to decide what they’re going to do with the five.