The Formosan Association for Public Affairs (FAPA) has appealed to the White House to help ensure former president Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) receives the medical care he needs.
In a letter to US President Barack Obama, FAPA president Mark Kao (高龍榮) said that Chen desperately needed medical parole to receive hospital treatment.
Chen is currently serving 17-and-a-half years in prison on two concurrent sentences related to corruption charges.
The letter is FAPA’s latest move as it steps up a campaign to draw attention to what it called Chen’s deteriorating health and “demeaning” living conditions.
Earlier this week, FAPA began organizing US lawmakers to aid Chen.
In his letter to Obama, Kao said: “On behalf of our community we respectfully request that you strongly urge the government of Taiwan to grant former president Chen medical parole in order to receive adequate medical treatment in a timely manner.”
Kao said in a later interview: “We decided to appeal to Obama since we believe that he highly values human rights.”
“Such demeaning conditions as currently being endured by Chen are unprecedented in the treatment of a former head of state of a democratic country,” he said.
“The fact that Chen is held in a damp, undersized cell which he has to share with a cellmate is an obvious attempt by the administration of President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) to humiliate him,” Kao said, adding that Chen was not allowed a bed, a chair or a desk and had to sit and write on the floor.
“It is not only demeaning to him as a person, but also undermines the quality of the democracy in our homeland. It is reminiscent of the ways the old Chinese emperors dealt with their predecessors,” he said.
“There is no place for this kind of treatment in our modern day and age,” he added.
Chen was recently hospitalized and diagnosed with acute coronary syndrome, significantly reduced blood flow and a prostate tumor.
It was also discovered that he had been receiving anti-anxiety medication for the past 14 months, allegedly without his knowledge or consent.
Chen’s doctors attribute his “degraded physical condition” to an inactive life style and long-term deprivation of sunlight.
The former president is only allowed 30 minutes of outdoor exercise a day.