Sat, Jun 03, 2017 - Page 1 News List

Groups prepare for Tiananmen event

FIRE AT THE DOOR:Although Taiwan has been ignoring China in favor of autonomy, Taiwanese are being treated like citizens of China regardless, a group member said

By Abraham Gerber  /  Staff reporter

China should investigate the Tiananmen Square Massacre and release Taiwanese human rights activist Lee Ming-che (李明哲), civil rights advocates and pan-green legislators said yesterday, calling for President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) to issue a strong statement in the buildup to the nation’s annual Tiananmen commemoration.

The Tiananmen Square Massacre refers to the Chinese government’s bloody crackdown on pro-democracy demonstrators in Beijing on June 4, 1989.

Freedom, democracy, human rights and the rule of law are universal values and common ways of life cherished by people around the world, Mainland Affairs Council Deputy Minister Chiu Chui-cheng (邱垂正) said.

The council hopes China will “think carefully about the historical significance and important revelations” that followed the massacre, and “rationally respond to its people’s demands to implement democracy and protect human rights” to facilitate a more open, fair and just society, Chiu said.

“We cannot treat China’s human rights violations as unrelated to us — our neighbor’s fire has burned onto our doorstep,” said Tseng Chien-yuan (曾建元), an executive board member of the New School for Democracy, one of the event’s main organizers.

“Even though Taiwan has been ignoring these issues in pursuit of independence and autonomy, we are getting sucked into being treated like their citizens,” Tseng said.

This is exemplified by the case of Lee — a staff member at Wenshan Community College in Taipei who has been held incommunicado since March and has been charged with “subversion of state power” — because of his alleged connection with activities to promote democracy, along with China’s refusal to consult with Taiwanese authorities and allow family visitation in accordance with the Cross-Strait Joint Crime-Fighting and Judicial Mutual Assistance Agreement (海峽兩岸共同打擊犯罪及司法互助協議).

The case is to anchor tomorrow’s commemorative event, which is to also honor other “prisoners of conscience” who have accumulated since the massacre.

“The longer time draws out, the more ‘justice debt’ the Chinese Communist Party accumulates and the more important remembering Tiananmen Square becomes,” said Wuer Kaixi, a former Tiananmen student activist and member of the Uyghur minority group who resides in Taiwan.

While former student leader Wang Dan (王丹) is scheduled to speak at the event, no Chinese students studying in Taiwan have been invited because of safety concerns, Student Workshop for Promoting China’s Democracy member Chou Ching-chang (周慶昌) said.

The Chinese Communist Party uses Chinese students to spy on each other, he said, adding that measures such as wearing masks to protect their anonymity had been ruled out because they would appear “strange” to Taiwanese students, the event’s main audience.

Hong Kong student groups will not send any representatives because of internal conflicts over whether to continue to commemorate Tiananmen following the rise of the territory’s independence movement, he said.

Unlike last year, neither the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) nor the People First Party are to participate in this year’s event, which is sponsored in part by the New Power Party and Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), which was notably absent from last year’s event.

“The student responsible for contacting them sent an invitation only one day before,” Student Workshop for Promoting China’s Democracy member Chou Ching-chang (周慶昌) said, adding that the DPP had held a separate memorial service at the Legislative Yuan.

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