BEIJING — At least five Chinese feminist activists were detained in the run-up to International Women’s Day and are still being held, one of their lawyers said Monday. Lawyer Wang Qiushi told NBC News that the women were arrested on Friday night.
"Their families are all supporting what they are doing. Seeking gender equality is very meaningful," Wang said. "Personally, I am shocked by their detention." Security in Beijing has been increased over the past week while China’s legislature holds its annual session, and Wang suggested the feminists' arrests could be related.
Still, "even during the conference time, what the police did is too much," said Wang, who represents Wei Tingting. Wang named the others arrested as Li Tingting, Wang Man, Zheng Churan, and Wu Rongrong and said prison officials had confirmed to him they were holding Li.
Wang said he was unclear about the allegations against the women because he had not been able to contact his client. Chinese activist Feng Yuan told The Associated Press the women planned to observe International Women’s Day by putting up leaflets about sexual harassment. NBC News reached out to police and prison officials in Beijing but was unable to confirm the status of the women.
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The Associated Press and NBC News researcher Zhou Chaojie contributed to this report.