Mon, Dec 08, 2008 - Page 3 News List

Chen’s office to hold candle vigil

HUMAN RIGHTS DAYSeeking to draw the attention of foreign media, organizers said that they would issue English-language press releases on the day of the vigil

By Ko Shu-ling  /  STAFF REPORTER

A supporter of detained former president Chen Shui-bian yesterday holds up an A-bian doll and calls for Chen’s release at a prayer meeting in Kaohsiung organized by the Presbyterian Church in Taiwan on the theme sovereignty, human rights and protecting Taiwan.

PHOTO: CNA

The office of former president Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) said yesterday it would hold a candlelight vigil at the Taipei Detention Center on Wednesday to mark Human Rights Day.

“We want to send a message to the world that [the quality of] Taiwan’s human rights, sovereignty, democracy, judiciary and justice have declined,” Ketagalan Foundation executive director Su Wang (王時思) said.

Wang said that as the Taipei Detention Center has become a new location for human rights violations, the foundation would hold its vigil outside the center on Wednesday. Organizers include the Presbyterian Church in Taiwan and other local civic groups, including the Taiwan Society.

Wang said organizers did not intend to invite any politicians, but welcomed local and international media and private groups to participate. They hoped to attract about 200 people, she said.

While Taiwan has transitioned from authoritarianism to democracy, Wang said many international groups found it difficult to accept the many human rights violations that have occurred recently, which they see as threatening the nation’s sovereignty.

To allow international media to reach a better understanding of the situation in Taiwan, Wang said organizers would issue English press releases on Wednesday.

“Taiwan has elections, but elections do not guarantee genuine democracy,” she said. “Democracy can only be ensured when the government is of the people, by the people and for the people.”

Chen has been detained without charge since Nov. 12. He is suspected of money laundering, accepting bribes, forgery and embezzling NT$15 million (US$450,000) during his presidency.

Chen has accused the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) administration of “political persecution” and of waging a “political vendetta” against him to curry favor with China.

Many human rights groups, both local and international, have expressed concern over human rights violations since Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Strait Chairman Chen Yunlin (陳雲林) visited Taipei early last month.

A substantial number of foreign experts on Taiwan have also expressed concern about the series of detentions of present and former Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) government officials and called for reform in two open letters.

They said the incarcerations gave the impression that KMT authorities “are using the judicial system to get even with members of the former DPP government.”

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