Mon, May 20, 2002 - Page 1 News List

Government has to protect rights: Chen

By Chang Yu-jung  /  STAFF REPORTER

PHOTO: REUTERS

Freedom and human rights are fundamental to a constitutional democracy and the government exists to protect them, President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) said yesterday.

"Protecting and enhancing people's freedom and civil rights is the main reason for a government to exist," Chen said. "The government is only a means to serve such a purpose," the president said, adding that the constitution guaranteed such rights.

Chen made the comments yesterday in a speech to inaugurate the Preparation Association of the National Human Rights Memorial Hall.

The ceremony took place at the National Institute for Educational Resources and Research in Taipei and was attended by scholars and representatives from human-rights groups.

The National Human Rights Memorial Hall, scheduled to open in December next year, will be located at the institute, which in turn will relocate to Sanshia, Taipei County.

Chen said the establishment of a human-rights memorial hall was a part of his promise to turn Taiwan into a "human rights-oriented nation" (人權立國).

"Only when people fully understand the essence of human rights and the history of how our ancestors have struggled for human rights can people recognize the importance of treasuring and protecting their own human rights," Chen said.

Bo Yang (柏陽), convener of the Council for the Promotion of the Establishment of National Human Rights Memorial Hall, said the memorial would serve as a reminder of what people have suffered in the past in striving for human rights.

Apart from being a renowned writer and human-rights activist, Bo is also a former political prisoner.

The president asked him to serve as convener of the council in August to work out a preliminary plan to set up the preparation association for the memorial hall.

According to the group, the memorial hall will include information on the struggle for human rights in Taiwan and around the world.

Historical records from the "White Terror" era will be displayed. There will also be sections on women's rights, labor rights and the history of ethnic conflicts in Taiwan.

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