Sat, Sep 09, 2017 - Page 8 News List

[ LETTER ]

AIT should issue guidelines

According to my friends in [Taipei’s] Neihu [District (內湖)], the new American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) headquarters is expected to open there early next year.

Previously, as we know, protesters, petitioners, etc. who had information that they wished to bring to the attention of the US authorities frequently gathered in front of the AIT on Xinyi Road and blocked traffic.

Jinhu Road in Neihu is a very long and wide boulevard that can easily accommodate five or 10 times the number of people that previously gathered in front of AIT.

Hence, some residents of Neihu are wondering if the AIT could, before its opening, issue specific “Petitioning Guidelines” for the reference of all interested parties.

In particular, we know that the [US’] Taiwan Relations Act (TRA) contains a “Human Rights Clause.”

In most countries, the inclusion of such a clause in domestic legislation would immediately cause the formation of a “Human Rights Commission” to which all concerned persons could submit their petitions. The commission would offer all necessary assistance and coordination to solve their problems.

However, under the TRA, no such commission has been established for Taiwanese.

As I know, concern for human rights in Taiwan took a dramatic upturn after Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) was elected president in 2000.

One major issue that Taiwan Autonomy Foundation members have heard raised in recent years is the feeling that “human rights” must be based on having an internationally recognized nationality.

Curiously, the Republic of China passport gives the bearer’s nationality as “Republic of China,” a nationality designation that does not exist internationally.

Reference: The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) has published ISO 3166-1 alpha-3 codes, which the International Civil Aviation Organization has adopted as the official designations for a “recognized nationality” to use in manufacturing machine-readable passports, carried by all international travelers.

There is no entry for “Republic of China” or “ROC.”

But doesn’t Article 15 (1) of the Universal Human Rights Declaration say everyone has the right to a nationality?

Many people in Taiwan complain of this problem in petitions to the AIT, the Department of State, the White House, members of the US Congress, etc.

According to my knowledge, from 2000 to the present, neither the AIT nor the State Department has given any substantive response to these petitions or to other petitions.

Hence the request: Before moving to Neihu, could the AIT please issue some “Petitioning Guidelines”?

If neither the AIT nor the State Department is willing to respond to human rights petitions, why not formally announce that petitions from Taiwanese are not welcome and will not be processed?

Accordingly, there would be no point in assembling large groups of people in Neihu to present any type of complaints to the AIT personnel.

We would also hope that the US government would clarify how Taiwanese can resolve their human rights problems based on the TRA’s human rights clause. Why can’t we have a Human Rights Commission?

Tom Chang

Alhambra, California

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