A number of civic groups yesterday voiced support for Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo (劉曉波) and expressed concern about whether academics in Taiwan might suffer the same fate as Liu amid warming cross-strait relations.
At a press conference, Hawang Shiow-duan (黃秀端), a professor of political science at Soochow University and president of the Taipei Society, urged China to release Liu as soon as possible and criticized President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) for his silence on the matter.
Liu, who co-authored a manifesto calling for sweeping reform in China, was arrested on Wednesday last week for activities allegedly aimed at overthrowing the country’s socialist system.
“Ma cared about the human rights situation in China before he became president, but he has been indifferent [to the situation] since he assumed office. This is a pity,” Hawang said.
Hsueh Chin-feng (薛欽峰), director of the Taipei Bar Association’s Human Rights Protection Commission, said Ma’s silence made him wonder if the president really meant it when, in the past, he voiced concerns about human rights violations in China.
Judicial Reform Foundation executive director Lin Feng-cheng (林峰正) vowed to confront Ma face to face regarding the latter’s attitude toward Liu’s arrest after the president returns from his trip to Central America.
Hawang said she was “deeply worried” that cases similar to Liu’s might eventually occur in Taiwan.
“Over the past few months, human rights in Taiwan have suffered a setback because [the government] has sought rapprochement with China,” Hawang said.
She said the Act Governing the Administrative Impartiality of Public Officials (公務人員行政中立法), recently passed by the legislature, and the Ministry of Education’s plan to extend impartiality regulations to all teachers could have a “chilling effect” on academics.
Hawang was referring to the act’s barring academics at public research institutes from wearing or displaying flags or emblems of any political party or group at the workplace.
It also bars academics from convening protests, launching signature drives and editing, printing or distributiing political flyers or related documents using public equipment at public offices.
The Examination Yuan and the Executive Yuan are also authorized to impose bans through administrative orders.