22 Nov 2008

Taiwan's police admit hitting Chou at protest

Police admitted beating an opposition member of the Taipei City Council during an anti-Chinese protest, while students invited President Ma Ying-jeou yesterday to attend a mock human rights funeral.(more)

[FIDH] [Press Release] Open letter to President Ma, Premier Liu, and R.O.C.--Taiwan

Deep concern regarding the detention and attacks against citizens protesting peacefully during the visit of Chinese envoy Mr. CHEN Yunlin
Open letter to

* President Ma Ying-jeou
* Premier Liu Chao-hsuan
* Republic of China – Taiwan

Your Excellencies,

The International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) is writing to you to express its deep concern regarding the detention and attacks against citizens protesting peacefully during the visit of Chinese envoy Mr. CHEN Yunlin. FIDH believes that such arrests and violence are grave violations of human rights, under the pretext of national security.

According to the information received, since November 3rd, 2008, the city of Taipei has been heavily occupied by more than 7,000 police officers. The authorities have taken many drastic measures, including: confiscating and damaging private property, harassing and assaulting people who came too close to undefined or vaguely defined areas, clearing communal highway lanes with force, conducting random searches and arrests, and restricting the freedom of movement of citizens. These actions have been taken during Mr. CHEN’s visit, in the name of protecting security.

However, we fear these aggressions in fact aim at suppressing the right to freedom of expression of citizens. To supplement this violence, there are also unprecedented restrictions which clearly overpass the limits of ensuring security. For example, citizens have been restricted from displaying or carrying the national flag of Taiwan, forbidden to declare that “Taiwan is not part of China”, forbidden from carrying filming devices, and restricted from playing any music the authorities consider inappropriate.

These measures seem to be aimed at silencing political opinions rather than protecting security, and thus they blatantly violate the Constitution of Taiwan, notably Articles 11 and 14 which protect freedom of expression and international human rights standards. Consequently, FIDH requests that the National Police Agency and National Security Bureau, bound by the Constitution and the national legislation, should be held responsible for violating their legal obligations. The Judicial Yuan and Control Yuan should immediately conduct independent and impartial investigations into all allegations of human rights violations and hold all personnel in office accountable for neglecting their civil and legal obligations, in line with the Judicial Yuan’s recent statement that “it is very important to form an objective and solid review standard, and make the constitutional reviews more predictable and trust-worthy to people”. Those who perpetrated these violations, particularly in the National Police Agency and National Security Bureau, must be held accountable, in accordance with Article 24 of the Constitution of Taiwan, which stipulates that “Any public employee who, in violation of law, infringes upon the freedom or right of any person shall, in addition to being subject to disciplinary punishment in accordance with law, be liable to criminal and civil action. The victim may, in accordance with law, claim damages from the State for any injury sustained therefrom.”

More generally, FIDH calls upon the government to amend the Parade and Assembly Law, in particular : to abolish the requirement for mandatory permits and adopt the system of voluntary basis and the clause on special area of restriction, which gives too much discretion to the authority to restrict people’s freedom of association and freedom of expression. In addition the authorities should abolish the order to dismiss as well as the provisions on special criminal punishment, which is a legacy of the martial law era. Finally, Taiwan should establish the protocol for law enforcement personnel who should have the obligation to clearly announce his or her identity when on duty, to ensure legitimacy and accountability.

Your Excellencies,

Our Organization firmly believes that the fruit of Taiwan’s remarkable democratization has landmark significance to the Asian continent as a whole. We therefore express our serious concern over the alarming human rights degradation in Taiwan, and we do take it as a signal of a negative trend undermining the values of democracy and human rights on which Taiwan should be based. Hoping that you will take into consideration the above mentioned concerns, I remain,

Yours sincerely,

Souhayr Belhassen

* FIDH President
Original page: http://www.fidh.org/spip.php?article6006

The State of Mind

in Taiwan in 21st century is similar to the state of mind in Europe before the French Revolution. The Taipei times has published a cartoon fitting to this situation, referring to the Ancien Régime, the old order (before the revolution):

The old order in China was the imperial system and the philosophy of Confucius representing the state of mind of an ancient feudal state.
After the revolution Sun Yat-sen, tried to install a new order, based on the three principles of the people. Heavily influenced by his experience in Europe and North America, he wanted to install a multinational, socialistic, power separated constitutional democracy. To fit this system into a Chinese environment he chooses to adopt parts of the imperial system and of the philosophy of Confucius.

When Chiang Kai-shek, installed his dictatorship, officially the three principles were still the ideology of the Republic, but in fact only the imperial system and a rest of Confucius survived this process. He and his party became the new Emperors.

From Sun Yat-sen’s new order, the Republic of China has developed to a country were political philosophy is reduced to some: be quite, don’t think, follow your political leaders, teachers, parents, …. And of course work harder statements.

Has someone counted how many times, the KMT, leading Government officials or conservative journalists have used the term: work harder? Has someone compared it with the number of use of words like democracy or human rights?

I want to finish with linking some articles about Taiwan’s state of mind and the Strawberry movement in the Taipei Times (which is because of its cooperation with the British Guardian the most European of Taiwan’s Newspapers):

EDITORIAL: Ma should amend the assembly law

The dire straits of Taiwanese democracy

Student movements go high-tech

Nov. 20 Wild Strawberries Respond to National Police Agency’s Evaluation of “Harmony Police Drill”

With regard to the November 18th evaluation of the “Harmony Police Drill” (協和演習), the National Police Agency based their conclusions solely on police reports and issued reprimands to only junior officers on duty for the harassment and excessive tactics during ARATS Chairman Chen Yun Lin’s visit. Commanding officers have yet to admit any mistakes with the overall security policy execution. The Wild Strawberries expressed regret towards such evaluation results and sympathy for the reprimanded junior officers.

For instance, the NPA investigation did not take into account the perspective of Sunrise Records. Owners stated that they did not voluntarily close the store and the store was in fact, forcibly shut down by the police. To add insult to injury, the responsible police department chief placed the blame on the owners instead of apologizing for closing a privately owned business. It is apparent that this investigation has not been conducted in a thorough or candid manner, and the NPA remains unapologetic towards the heavy-handed tactics which lacked legal basis; such an attitude has unfortunately compromised Taiwanese citizens’ confidence in law enforcement.

Moreover, the government has avoided providing any legal grounds for the recent controversial and heightened “public security maintenance measures” (e.g. balloon-flying in Chientan, forced entry of occupied hotel rooms at the Grand Hotel, destruction of national flags carried by private citizens, security checks of civilians and reporters near the Grand Hotel, blockage of the Chung-shan Bridge, confiscation of national flags outside of Taiwan Cement building, the Grand Formosa Regent Taipei Hotel incident, the forcible shutdown of Sunrise Records, and the police-civilian clashes near the Grand Hotel). Thus far, there has been insufficient explanation regarding whether law enforcement officers followed administrative procedures and no direct response to whether law enforcement tactics were indeed excessive.

Most importantly, the objective of the review was focused on whether the Chinese delegation was properly attended to (rather than whether citizens were fairly treated) and how to award/reprimand officers accordingly. As public servants, their blatant disregard for the welfare of citizens is simply unacceptable, especially in a democratic society. As such, we strongly urge the police and national security agencies to discuss the legality of their actions during Chen’s visit and re-examine apparent excessive law enforcement tactics. Perhaps a closer reexamination will allow the officials to finally understand the reasons behind the anger of Taiwanese citizens.

The Wild Strawberries re-emphasize that cases of power abuse during the heightened security period were not dispersed, isolated incidents. The prevalence of excessive tactics we have observed clearly suggests that high-level commanding officers were inept in formulating appropriate security measures and entirely disregarded fundamental human rights. Without a coherent strategy, junior law enforcement officers were unable to effectively and reasonably maintain public security, resulting in unfortunate (and oftentimes reluctant on the part of the junior officers) clashes with civilians. Once again, we call on the police and national security officials to reexamine the legality of their recent actions instead of punishing junior officers. The ability to admit to and accept responsibility for one’s mistakes is not only an act of bravery, but appropriate for a political appointee in a democratic society.
Translated from http://action1106.blogspot.com/2008/11/blog-post_3483.html