The “dangerous game” of keeping imprisoned former president Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) from access to appropriate medical care has been played for “too long and too far,” former US attorney-general Ramsey Clark said yesterday in Taipei, calling for Chen’s immediate release and international attention to his situation.
Clark, who is in Taiwan on a four-day visit, told a press conference yesterday evening that Taiwanese need to exercise their power and make their support of Chen heard, while the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva should pay attention to Chen’s case and do its duty.
Chen is serving a 17-and-a-half-year prison term on corruption charges. During his incarceration, he has complained about several physical ailments, including chest pains.
Chen was of clear mind and expression, but was “obviously weak” and was kept in a condition which would further undermine his health, Clark said of his one-hour meeting with the former president on Monday afternoon.
There was no reason for making Chen sleep and eat on the floor and live in a space that is less than 2m2, Clark said.
“And there is no time to be playing games with fundamental human rights,” he added.
Earlier yesterday, Clark visited Greater Kaohsiung, where he met Chen’s wife, Wu Shu-jen (吳淑珍), and Kaohsiung Mayor Chen Chu (陳菊).
He said there would not be peace and harmony in Taiwanese society before Chen’s human rights are respected, as most Taiwanese people found the way the administration of President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) is treating Chen unacceptable.
Anyone could tell from Wu’s worried face that she is concerned for her husband’s health even more than her own, he said.
Clark added that Chen could have been put under house arrest, as he would have received better treatment and it would have been a better environment for his health, as the possibility of Chen escaping is extremely low.
Clark attended a dinner banquet after the press conference, where hundreds of guests paid tribute to the former US official who fought for Taiwan’s democratic movement and its struggle for freedom.
An internationally renowned defender of human rights, Clark flew to Taiwan in 1980 to express concerns over what came to be known as the Formosa Incident, also known as the Kaohsiung Incident, during which riot police cracked down on protesters calling for political rights.
Clark is scheduled to visit the Ministry of Justice and to meet with Minister of Justice Tseng Yung-fu (曾勇夫) today, before concluding his four-day trip tomorrow.