A number of Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) legislators, human rights activists and family members of two Falun Gong practitioners yesterday urged China to release the pair ahead of the fourth round of cross-strait talks.
At a press conference at the legislature, DPP Legislator Tien Chiu-chin (田秋堇) said the two practitioners — 63-year-old Li Yaohua (李燿華) and her daughter Zhang Yibo (張軼博) — were arrested by police at their residence in Shanghai without any warrant in the middle of the night on June 4 because they distributed 30 Falun Gong flyers to their neighbors’ mailboxes.
Tien said Li, a Hong Kong citizen whose father is a Taiwanese national, and Zhang, a Chinese national, had been detained for more than five months without bail even though Li had been suffering from a chronic illness.
Li’s son Zhang Yi-yuan (張軼淵) said government agencies in Taiwan, including the Ministry of Justice and the Mainland Affairs Council, had sent letters to their Chinese counterparts urging the Chinese authorities to allow family members to visit Li and Zhang Yibo, but to no avail.
DPP Legislator Pan Men-an (潘孟安) said China should show its “sincerity” ahead of upcoming cross-strait negotiations by releasing Li and her daughter.
Taiwan should also seek help from international human rights organizations to rescue the pair, Pan said.
Pan said the DPP is also considering launching a legislative proposal to ban Chinese officials suspected of having persecuted Falun Gong practitioners from entering Taiwan.
Former chairman of the Taiwan Association for Human Rights Kenneth Chiu (邱晃泉), who also attended the conference, urged President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) to take action to rescue Li and Zhang Yibo.
“If Ma dares not say a word in the face of China, his promise to promote the nation’s human rights will be nothing but a lie,” Chiu said.
Chiu also urged the government to pursue a cross-strait human rights cooperation framework agreement before signing an economic cooperation framework agreement (ECFA) with China.
“Only when both sides guarantee the protection of human rights can cross-strait economic cooperation be possible,” Chiu said.