Civic groups staged a 10-hour protest yesterday in front of the Presidential Office, urging President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) to break his long silence on Beijing’s detention of a Taiwanese Falun Gong practitioner.
More than 200 representatives from civic groups, lawmakers and ordinary citizens asked Ma to speak up for his people, in this case Bruce Chung (鍾鼎邦), who has been detained in China for 51 days since June 18 after a trip to Yongkang City, Jiangxi Province.
“All I want to say is my father has done no wrong and does not deserve this. And I will be sitting here until President Ma responds,” Chung’s daughter Chung Ai (鍾愛) told a press conference on Ketagalan Boulevard.
Chung was arrested “for hijacking the signal of a Chinese TV station in 2003 from Taiwan with the help of Chinese nationals — a serious national security concern,” Xinhua news agency has reported.
Chung Ai and Lai Yu-hsia (賴玉霞), Chung’s mother, then went into a mock wooden jail cell, holding a placard on which was written the number “51,” saying they did it for Bruce Chung and to get Ma’s attention on the eve of Father’s Day.
Chung’s family criticized the government for doing too little to rescue Bruce Chung and to help the family to visit him in China, even though they have staged two protests on the boulevard.
Speakers at the press conference, held one day before Father’s Day and the arrival of Chinese officials’ for a round of cross-strait negotiations, accused Ma — who has always taken pride in his advocacy of human rights — and his administration of turning a blind eye to the detention.
“As a president, a husband or a human being, President Ma is obligated to say something to Beijing and to do what he can to protect his people,” Taiwan Association for Human Rights secretary-general Tsai Chi-hsun (蔡季勳) said.
“Beijing’s rudeness is never a surprise, nor is Ma’s incompetence. Bruce Chung’s 51-and-counting detention is a perfect footnote of the Ma administration’s decadence,” Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Tuan Yi-kang (段宜康) said.
“I’m calling for everyone to stop referring to Ma as the president until he takes action and speaks up for [Bruce] Chung,” Taiwan Association for China Human Rights president Yang Hsien-hung (楊憲宏) said.
Protesters took turn going inside the wooden cell during the rally, while others staged a sit-in on the boulevard.
They chanted the slogan “Bring daddy Chung home, President Ma speak up” and tied yellow ribbons on the trees to wish Bruce Chung well.
Bruce Chung’s family and representatives of the civic groups submitted a letter of appeal to the Presidential Office at 5:30pm before a rally in the evening to wrap up the 10-hour event.
A petition launched by Chung Ai had collected 150,000 signatures and Taiwan’s Falung Gong practitioners have launched another petition across the country, said Teresa Chu (朱婉琪), a lawyer who represents the Falun Gong, adding 22 lawmakers have signed the petition calling for Ma to take immediate action on the case.
DDP Chairman Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) also demanded the “immediate and unconditional release” of Bruce Chung in a message posted on his Facebook page yesterday.