Tue, Mar 01, 2005 - Page 1 News List

Chen calls for human rights measures in 228 speech

By Jimmy Chuang  /  STAFF REPORTER

President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) yesterday said that human rights protections will be added to the Constitution when it is amended and that a "National Council of Human Rights" will be established.

"The 228 Incident is a human rights incident. To assure that the same tragedy will never happen again, human rights-related issues will be added when the Constitution is amended," Chen said.

Chen made the remarks during a ceremony in memory of the 228 Incident at Taipei City's 228 Memorial Peace Park yesterday afternoon. The ceremony was held by the Taipei City Government and the 228 Incident Memorial Foundation. Nearly 200 victims, friends and their family members joined the event.

The Constitution is expected to be amended by the National Assembly, though the exact timing of the revision has not yet been determined. An election of National Assembly members is scheduled for May 14.

During a presentation of a report by historians on the 228 Incident on Saturday morning, Vice President Annette Lu (呂秀蓮) said that the public had been forced to call their memorial activities for the 228 Incident "288 Peace Day" although the day has nothing to do with peace.

Lu said that people had to do so because the then-government would not admit to its fault, even though the massacres happened more than 50 years ago.

Lu's remarks were echoed by the president yesterday.

"The government eventually decided that Feb. 28 is a national holiday in memory of the incident and called it `228 Peace Day.' However, it has nothing to do with `peace' at all. It is actually a day for most Taiwanese people to mourn the loss of their loved ones during the incident," Chen said.

Taipei City Mayor Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) said that it is the government's responsibility to do whatever it takes to make it up to the remaining victims, victims who have already passed away and their family members.

"Clearing victims' names and restoring the facts of the incident are the best ways to make it up to them, and that is something the government has been doing," Ma said.

In his comments, the president also mentioned that Taiwanese people are tired of political conflict and they have made that clear in their low turnout for elections.

"For the presidential election last year, we had a record low voter turnout. What did that mean?" Chen said. "That means our people are sick of politics. They need some resolution to the problems they face in daily life instead."

"That was why I decided to sit down and talk with People First Party Chairman James Soong (宋楚瑜)," the president said.

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