The Taipei Mass Rapid Transit system (MRT) has blocked an advertisement from Amnesty International featuring Lee Ming-che, a Taiwanese democracy advocate that was disappeared in March 2017 in China.

Lee was traveling to Guangdong, China from Macao when he lost contact with his family. Eventually Lee was charged with subversion of state power, the first Taiwanese person to ever receive that charge, and sentenced to 5 years in jail. Lee’s detention has garnered world wide attention and condemnation of the Chinese government from the international community.

Being that the Taipei MRT is government funded and majority owned by the government, many are outraged that they would refuse to run the advert because it is a “politically sensitive issue.” It is true that Lee worked for the DPP, he also worked for an NGO, however his detainment seems have been condemned by the large majority of Taiwanese regardless of party affiliation.

Wang Hsing-chung (王興中), the director of the Chinese Democracy Academy (華人民主書院), stated that in many other countries you can see advertisements calling for justice for people around the world, like seeing an ad calling for the end of the death penalty in America in the Parisian metro. Wang said not to conflate human rights issues with extremist ideologies, and not to use the excuse of not wanting to offend China as the basis for political censorship.

The planned advertisement was of a cartoon depicting what happened to Lee. Chiu Yu-ling (邱伊翎), the Secretary General of Amnesty International in Taiwan, voiced her frustrations about what she also viewed as political censorship in Taiwan and said that even if they had removed the word “China” on the advertisement, it still would have been censored.

Some good news is that Lee is set to be released this year after being detained as a political prisoner for 5 years. Hopefully he will be back in Taiwan soon and able to spend time with his family and friends after such a horrific experience.