Members of a pro-independence group yesterday started a 36-day walk around the country as they called on the authorities to end what they termed “autocratic control of the judiciary” and for the release of jailed former president Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁).
The walk was initiated by the Alliance of Referendum for Taiwan. Dozens of people joined the walk from Taipei Veterans General Hospital in Taipei yesterday, where Chen, who is serving a lengthy jail term on charges of corruption, was admitted on Sept. 21 for medical examination and treatment.
The group plans to walk through Keelung, Yilan County, Hualien County, Taitung County, Pingtung County and the cities and counties on the west coast before arriving back in Taipei on Dec. 8. They are then to hold a protest on Ketagalan Boulevard in front of the Presidential Office, said Tsay Ting-kuei (蔡丁貴), the alliance’s convener.
The action is a non-violent call for the government to end judicial persecution against Chen and release him, he said, adding that about 30 people would participate in the entire walk.
On Friday, Hans van Baalen, a member of the European Parliament and president of Liberal International currently visiting Taiwan, said Chen should be given better medical treatment.
Doctors said Chen is severely depressed and his supporters and human rights groups have suggested that he be released on medical parole.
The question of whether Chen should be released on parole for medical treatment should not be treated as a political issue, Van Baalen said after visiting Chen at Taipei Veterans General Hospital.
Doctors’ professional opinions should guide the decision, and they say Chen should be provided with a better place for medical treatment, Van Baalen said.
The Liberal International congress has passed a resolution calling for Taiwan’s government to release Chen for medical treatment, he added, saying he has sent the resolution to Minister of Foreign Affairs David Lin (林永樂).
Liberal International is a world federation of more than 100 political parties.