The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) is set to highlight what it says is the serious backsliding on human rights under President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) administration in an international press conference today, which is Human Rights Day.
DPP spokesperson Lin Chun-hsien (林俊憲) said the party had decided to call the press conference because of Ma’s inaction and inappropriate practices on a wide range of issues, which have led to the erosion of human rights during his presidency.
The president has stayed quiet over the controversial Next Media Group (壹傳媒集團) deal — which many fear could jeopardize the freedom of speech in Taiwan and create a media monopoly — and his administration has denied the Dalai Lama a visa to visit Taiwan, saying that the timing was not “opportune,” Lin said.
No substantial progress on domestic compliance with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR), which the Ma administration ratified in 2009, has been made and reform of the judiciary, which has been accused of targeting pan-green politicians, has also been lacking, Lin said.
The press conference, which is to be hosted by DPP Chairman Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌), is aimed at highlighting the disingenuous strategy of the president, who has always loved to trumpet Taiwan’s achievements in human rights, Lin said.
DPP caucus convener Ker Chien-ming (柯建銘), former Public Television Service Foundation president and chief executive Sylvia Feng (馮賢賢), lawyer Kao Yung-cheng (高涌誠) and executive director of the DPP’s Policy Research Committee Joseph Wu (吳釗燮) will participate in the press conference.
Lin said he was not sure if the human rights and judicial rights of former president Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁), who is serving an 18-and-a-half-year sentence on corruption charges, would be discussed at the press conference.
Many Taiwanese appear to share the DPP’s concerns, with most respondents in a public opinion poll released last week by the government-affiliated Taiwan Foundation for Democracy saying that human rights in the country have deteriorated, especially regarding media independence.
Human Rights Day has always been a special day for the DPP due to the Kaohsiung Incident, which occurred 33 years ago on Dec. 10, 1979. The incident, in which riot police cracked down on protesters calling for political rights, and its aftermath involved many former and active DPP leaders, including former vice president Annette Lu (呂秀蓮), Greater Kaohsiung Mayor Chen Chu (陳菊) and former DPP chairman Shih Ming-teh (施明德), as well as three then-lawyers — Su, Chen Shui-bian and former premier Frank Hsieh (謝長廷) — who defended the political prisoners in the ensuing trial.
A roundtable discussion for a general review of Taiwan’s compliance with the ICCPR and ICESCR is scheduled to be held today and tomorrow in Taipei to examine the nation’s human rights situation three years after the international covenants were ratified.
One of the most prominent participants is likely to be Rene Wadlow, president of the Association of World Citizens and the organization’s representative to the UN, who is currently assessing Taiwan’s human rights development in a 10-day visit.