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Taiwan marks Human Rights Day
Taiwan News, Staff Writer
2013-12-10 05:10 PM
TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – Democratic Progressive Party Chairman Su Tseng-chang and his predecessor, Tsai Ing-wen, marked International Human Rights Day Tuesday by slamming the government for its performance.

President Ma Ying-jeou kept boasting how his administration had ratified the United Nations International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural, but under his rule several grave human rights incidents had occurred, including last summer’s death of Army Corporal Hung Chung-chiu caused by bullying in the military, Su said.

Government officials should pay attention to public dissatisfaction and disillusionment with the present situation, the opposition leader said. So many leaders of the democracy movement had sacrificed their lives and their freedom to see Taiwan become a free nation, Su said, so the government should take care not to damage and go back on their achievements.

Tsai also mentioned the early leaders of the country’s democracy movement, reminding the public that they had never feared to take action in favor of freedom, but doubled their efforts so that the people could live without fear and find their own happiness based on fairness and justice.

What a country could really be proud about, Tsai said, were not its assets or its violence, but the country’s active protection of freedom and equality.

At a ceremony in Taipei, the relatives of a man executed for harboring communist spies handed over his goodbye letter to the government to keep as a memento of Taiwan’s dark past.

During the times of White Terror and repression in the late 1940s and 1950s, Kao Yi-sheng, a leader of the Tsou aboriginal people in Chiayi County, was accused of having protected communist spies from the government. Before being led away to be executed at the age of 46, Kao wrote a note to his wife saying that no matter how much gold, silver or jewels one possessed, nothing was worth more than one’s children.

His son, Kao Ying-chieh, officially handed over the letter to Ma at a ceremony organized by the Ministry of Culture with 360 survivors and relatives of victims of repression. The item will be stored by the National Human Rights Museum.

If people in the past had not fought for their rights, today’s Taiwanese would not have been able to live such democratic and peaceful lives, the younger Kao said.

He also thanked the people who had helped his family at the risk of their own safety by dumping firewood in front of their home, pretending it had been too heavy to carry and they had just dropped it there.

Chung Hsing-fu, a man who served 21 years at the Green Island prison for joining a ‘rebel’ organization, donated his jail uniform to the museum, while others offered a book bag left behind as a souvenir by a man about to be executed.

Culture Minister Lung Ying-tai praised the families for donating the most important objects in their lives, saying the move told everybody they should not forget the past but learn its lessons to prevent freedoms from being reduced in the future.

At a separate ceremony, the president handed the 8th Asia Democracy Human Rights Award to the Karen Human Rights Association from Myanmar.

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