President Chen Shui-bian (
"Taiwan's human-rights situation deserves as much attention, if not more, as the international community gives to Tibet," Chen said.
In addition to the 988 ballistic missiles deployed along China's southeast coast targeted at Taiwan, Chen said that Beijing passed an "Anti-Secession" Law to sanction the use of force against Taiwan.
"The missile crisis in the Taiwan Strait has not lasted for just 13 days as the Cuban missile crisis did, but poses an imminent threat to the island and the region," he said. "The 23 million people of Taiwan are entitled to be free from fear."
Chen made the remarks at the Presidential Office yesterday morning while meeting participants from an international symposium on human rights in Tibet, which wrapped up on Sunday.
While the international community has been concerned about the human-rights situation in Tibet, Taiwan has a similar problem as the country has been repeatedly shut out of international organizations, including the UN and WHO, because of China's suppression, Chen said.
The 11 failed attempts to join the WHO highlighted the fact that the 23 million Taiwanese are being ignored and deprived of their health rights, he said.
And despite the repeated failure to join the UN, Chen vowed to continuing trying.
"For the 23 million people of Taiwan, the journey from authoritarianism to democracy is a road of no return. We must continue down the path," he said.
Chen said that a referendum is a universal value and basic human right and a true democracy is letting the people have a say on major issues.
"No matter whether you agree or disagree, accept or refuse, respect or oppose, there is no doubt that the people of Taiwan are entitled to the right to referendum," he said, referring to the Democratic Progressive Party push for a referendum on joining the UN under the name of Taiwan.
Before the transition of power, Chen said a referendum was regarded as something like a monster, a disaster, a war and a political taboo.
Despite opposition and pressure from some powerful countries, Chen said that he was glad that Taiwan still received much support and encouragement from some international media.