Mon, Mar 18, 2013 - Page 8 News List

Leading the way on human rights

By Yang Sen-hong 楊憲宏

The motion also declares that: “According to the provision of Article 18 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, our country should show concern for prisoners of conscience, including democracy activists, human rights activists, Falun Gong practitioners, Tibetans, etc. who are imprisoned in labor camps, prisons, or detention centers by the Chinese government due to their political or religious beliefs, and should enact laws and regulations to rescue and provide assistance to them, so as to comply with the provisions of the Two Conventions and follow the international trend.”

It was the first time in Taiwan that a governmental document applied terminology to specify what kinds of people were taken into consideration in the motion.

“The term prisoner of conscience originated from Amnesty International, which is defined as people who have been jailed because of their political, religious or other conscientiously-held beliefs, ethnic origin, gender, color, language, national or social origin, economic status, birth, sexual orientation or other status, provided that they have neither used nor advocated violence,” it said.

The motion ends with an air of responsibility and a clear goal.

“In order to demonstrate that our country complies with human rights provisions of the Two Conventions and implements the core value of human rights upon which our nation is founded, our government should seriously concern about all of the prisoners of conscience on the list, who are imprisoned and deprived of fundamental human rights, including life, body, property and freedom, and should enact laws to provide necessary rescue and assistance,” it said.

There were 4,033 prisoners of conscience on the list. They were just a statistic until the motion was passed.

The breakdown of the list is as follows: Chinese democracy activists and human rights activists, 151; rights lawyers, 31; Falun Gong practitioners, 1,854; Tibetans and others, 1997.

After Liu was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, many hoped that former South African president Nelson Mandela would press the Chinese government to release Liu. However, Mandela did not.

Although Aung San Suu Kyi made a videotape in 2010 about her concern for prisoners of conscience, she has never pushed for Liu’s release.

Hopefully, Mandela and Aung San Suu Kyi can play the role of the Red Cross, a beacon of humanity not only for Liu, but also for all those who are kept in the dark, inhuman corners of Chinese political imprisonment.

Yang Sen-hong is a journalist and host at Radio Taiwan International.

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