“The biggest joke is that the council — a government authority in charge of protecting workers’ rights — has listed a budget of more than NT$20 million (US$687,000) to sue laid-off workers because they could not afford to repay loans given to them by the council in lieu of retirement benefits after their bosses ran away 16 years ago,” Lin said. “This is despite a promise by the council at the time that the workers would not have to pay the loans back, and that it would get the runaway employers to repay the loans instead.”
Chen Chih-hsiao (陳致曉), spokesperson for a self-help organization, spoke out against a project to demolish more than 400 houses on an 8km strip for a project to move railroad tracks in Greater Tainan underground.
Tashi Tsering (札西慈仁), a Tibetan-Taiwanese, demanded that Ma honor his promise to show concern for human rights in Tibet.
“During the 2008 presidential campaign when he was running for his first term, Ma used some very strong words to show his concern for human rights conditions in Tibet,” Tashi Tsering said. “However, since his election, he has remained silent as human rights situation have deteriorated in Tibet.”
Residents of Huaguang (華光) and Shaoxing (紹興) communities in Taipei, most of whom voted for Ma in the past two presidential elections, said they regretted supporting him, because the government is forcing them to leave their homes to make way for new building projects.
Alliance of Victims of Urban Renewal chairman Peng Lung-san (彭龍三) said he did not believe the president’s remarks that Taiwan is a country that upholds human rights.
“Where were these human rights when police officers escorted hydraulic shovels into private farmland, or broke into private homes to evict people by force to make way for factory or apartment building projects initiated by corporations,” Peng asked. “They said it was in the ‘public’s interest,’ but I say it was for private commercial interests.”
The demonstrators were blocked by police when they tried to approach Ma as he left the hotel.
Unable to talk to the president, the demonstrators chanted slogans calling Ma a human rights violator who is not qualified to present an award for human rights.
At the ceremony, Ma said he worried about an increase in child abuse in Taiwan as he presented the ADHRA to ECPAT International chairperson Maureen Crombie.
EPCAT stands for End Child Prostitution, Child Pornography and Trafficking of Children for Sexual Purposes.
“About 20 years ago in Taiwan, children being exploited for prostitution was a concern. Now the number of cases of child prostitution has decreased significantly, but not the cases of child abuse. This is another phenomenon that we have to pay attention to,” the president said.
Taiwan has been lauded by the international community for its achievements in preventing and combating human trafficking and it has been placed in the Tier 1 category of the US Department of State’s Trafficking in Persons Report for third consecutive year this year because of its complete legal framework and law enforcement efforts regarding children’s rights, Ma said.