A prominent Taiwanese-American organization on Friday accused the Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) administration of eroding Taiwan’s democracy during his term, and charged it with conducting a spate of “politically inspired” arrests of opposition leaders over the past two weeks.
The organization, the Formosan Association for Public Affairs (FAPA) based in Washington, asked the US government to express its concern over what it called the “deterioration of human rights and democracy in Taiwan” under the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) administration of Ma.
In its biting statement, FAPA, a leading pro-green lobbying group, also recalled the days of martial law “White Terror” under earlier KMT rule.
The arrests — coming just before a visit from China’s top cross-strait negotiator, Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Strait (ARATS) Chairman Chen Yunlin (陳雲林) — have resulted in the detention of four Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) politicians and the indictment of a fifth on charges ranging from corruption and embezzlement to assault.
The latest case involved former National Security Council secretary-general Chiou I-jen (邱義仁), who was detained on Friday on suspicion of embezzling US$500,000 from a diplomatic fund.
Chiou, who is also a former deputy premier, was considered in Washington to be one of the prime diplomatic and political liaisons between the administrations of Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) and US President George W. Bush through much of the Chen administration.
His detention came within days of other indictments and detentions. Tainan City Councilor Wang Ting-yu (王定宇) was indicted in connection with a melee in which visiting ARATS Vice Chairman Zhang Mingqing (張銘清) fell to the ground during a visit to Tainan in advance of Chen’s trip. DPP Chiayi County Commissioner Chen Ming-wen (陳明文) and former environmental protection minister James Lee (李界木) were both detained.
Complaining about the Ma administration’s legal action against those four officials, FAPA also cited the Oct. 15 arrest of former interior minister Yu Cheng-hsien (余政憲) in Kaohsiung on corruption charges.
In a statement, FAPA president Bob Yang (楊英育) called the prosecutions unfair and a violation of the officials’ basic rights.
“We also question the fairness of the procedures: While one or two of the accused have been formally charged, the majority are being held incommunicado and without charge,” he said.
“This is a severe contravention of the writ of habeas corpus and a basic violation of due process, justice and the rule of law. In the meantime, the prosecutor’s offices leak detrimental information to the press. This kind of ‘trial by press’ is unacceptable,” Yang said.
In urging the US government and Congress to express “their deep concern” over the situation, Yang said, “the present cases endanger the progress made during the 21 years since the end of the Kuomintang’s [KMT] martial law in 1987. As members of the Taiwanese-American community, we believe that a return to the KMT’s ‘White Terror’ days of 1945 to 1987 should be avoided at all cost.”
Yesterday in Taipei, former vice-president Annette Lu (呂秀蓮) also condemned the government for its detention of Chiou and other aides of the former president, calling the detentions a violation of human rights.
“I’ve not seen such large-scale detainments since the Kaohsiung Incident. It seems like the prosecutors detained people before finding any evidence, and I feel disturbed by such a procedure,” she said.
The Kaohsiung Incident, also known as the Formosa Incident, was an anti-government demonstration organized by Formosa Magazine on Dec. 10, 1979. The event turned into a violent confrontation, and as a result, Lu and seven other pro-democracy activists were arrested by the former KMT government.
Lu said recent developments in the allegations against former president Chen Shui-bian and his former aides were “unbelievable” to her, adding it was difficult for her to believe that what the prosecutors have said was all true.
ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY MO YAN-CHIH
The US Department of State yesterday criticized Beijing over its misrepresentation of the US’ “one China” policy in the latest diplomatic salvo between the two countries over a bid by Taiwan to regain its observer status at the World Health Assembly, the decisionmaking body of the WHO. “The PRC [People’s Republic of China] continues to publicly misrepresent U.S. policy,” Department of State spokesman Ned Price wrote on Twitter. “The United States does not subscribe to the PRC’s ‘one China principle’ — we remain committed to our longstanding, bipartisan one China policy, guided by the Taiwan Relations Act, Three Joint Communiques, and
FATES LINKED: The US president said that sanctions on Russia over Ukraine must exact a ‘long-term price,’ because otherwise ‘what signal does that send to China?’ US President Joe Biden yesterday vowed that US forces would defend Taiwan militarily in the event of a Chinese attack in his strongest statement to date on the issue. Beijing is already “flirting with danger,” Biden said following talks with Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida in Tokyo, in which the pair agreed to monitor Chinese naval activity and joint Chinese-Russian exercises. Asked if Washington was willing to get involved militarily to defend Taiwan, he replied: “Yes.” “That’s the commitment we made,” Biden said. “We agreed with the ‘one China’ policy, we signed on to it ... but the idea that it can be
INFORMATION LEAKED: Documents from Xinjiang purportedly showed top leaders in Beijing calling for a forceful crackdown and even orders to shoot to kill Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) yesterday held a videoconference with UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet as she visited Xinjiang during a mission overshadowed by fresh allegations of Uighur abuses and fears she is being used as a public relations tool. The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has been accused of detaining more than 1 million Uighurs and other Muslim minorities in the region as part of a years-long crackdown the US and lawmakers in other Western nations have labeled a “genocide.” China denies the allegations. Bachelet was expected to visit the cities of Urumqi and Kashgar on a six-day tour. The US
SUBTLE? While Biden said the US policy of ‘strategic ambiguity’ on Taiwan had not changed, the group targeted China and Russia without naming them Leaders of Australia, India, Japan and the US yesterday warned against attempts to “change the status quo by force,” as concerns grow about whether China could invade Taiwan. The issue of Taiwan loomed over a leadership meeting in Tokyo of the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (Quad) nations — the US, Japan, Australia and India — who stressed their determination to ensure a free and open Indo-Pacific region in the face of an increasingly assertive China, although Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said the group was not targeting any one country. The four leaders said in a joint statement issued after their talks