Wed, Aug 01, 2007 - Page 2 News List

Activists make plea for release of South Korean hostages

By Shih Hsiu-chuan  /  STAFF REPORTER

Local activists and members of an international civil movement aimed at promoting peace yesterday called on the Taliban to release the remaining South Koreans it is holding hostage. They also urged South Korea and other countries to withdraw from Afghanistan.

Leaders of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and members of the Taipei branch of the Global Partnership for the Prevention of Armed Conflict (GPPAC) made the appeal at a press conference held at the legislature.

Chien Hsi-chieh, the executive director of the Peacetime Foundation of Taiwan said the Taliban had violated the Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War and it should release the hostages immediately.

Two hostages among a church group of 23 South Koreans on a relief mission in Afghanistan were killed by the Taliban after they were abducted on July 19. The militants yesterday set tomorrow as a new deadline to save the remaining 21 hostages.

"The treatment of the hostages is simply not tolerable, and Taiwan, as a member of the international community, has to voice its concern about the matter," Chien said.

Wang Shu-li (王淑麗), director of the international affairs department at the National Union of Taiwan Women Association, urged the US and its allies to rexamine their plans to combat terrorism.

"Ever since the Sept. 11 attacks, their counterterrorism plans have not only made the public in other countries live in a state of war for years, but have also made their own nationals feel unsafe in their daily lives," Wang said.

Whether the nature of the fight against terrorism has become a war of encroachment is a problem worthy of consideration, said Fan Ching-wen (范菁文), director of the international affairs department of the Taiwan Association of Human Rights.

The activists also called on the Afghan government to ensure the safety of the remaining 21 hostages in its rescue plan, saying that they should not "fight evil with evil."

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