Human rights advocates urged the government and the public to show more concern to human rights violations in China, saying that only when China is genuinely democratized can an authentic peaceful relationship be maintained across the Taiwan Strait.
As the government organized various events to mark International Human Rights Day yesterday, several human rights advocacy groups called on the government to show its concern over imprisoned Chinese dissident and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Liu Xiaobo (劉曉波) — as well the more than 4,000 people jailed without proper trial in China.
“I am happy to see that civil society in Taiwan has joined more than 100 Nobel Prize laureates in the world to call for the release of Liu,” exiled Chinese democracy activist Wang Dan (王丹) told a press conference organized by the New School for Democracy (華人民主書院), an institution that he chairs, in Taipei.
“I would like to make three calls to newly sworn-in Chinese Communist Party General Secretary President Xi Jinping (習近平), Taiwanese President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) and civil society in Taiwan,” he said.
Wang called on Xi to fight rampant corruption in China through political reform and to stop the political oppression of anti-corruption advocates by locking them up.
“If those who speak the truth and criticize [the government] are locked up, how can you implement true reform?” Wang asked.
“If you [Xi] are sincere about reforms, you should release political prisoners, and you should start with Liu because of the symbolism that he represents,” he said.
As for Ma, Wang said he was happy to hear the president speak about human rights conditions in China, “but Ma should do more than talk to prove that he really means what he says.”
“Ma awarded the Asia Democracy and Human Rights Award to a Myanmar activist. Maybe he should consider giving the award to a Chinese democracy activist, since no Chinese activists have ever received the award,” Wang said.
He also appealed to the Taiwanese public, saying that only when China is truly democratized can Taiwan be safe, “especially when human rights violators in Taiwan and in China have gradually joined forces as one.”
“The answer to cross-strait relations would not be found until the foundation of democracy and human rights has been established in China,” said Wang, one of the best-known student leaders of the Tiananmen Square Massacre in 1989 and now a visiting professor at National Tsing Hua University.
Chinese Human Rights Concern Alliance president Yang Hsien-hung (楊憲宏) urged Taiwanese negotiators to raise the human rights issue during cross-strait talks.
Freddy Lim (林昶佐), lead vocalist of the heavy metal band Chthonic and the president of Amnesty International Taiwan, had different thoughts.
“Instead of making an appeal to the government or to the president — and I don’t believe he would listen — I think it’s more important for each of us to think of what we can do and do it,” he said.
“For instance, I’ve been using my weibo account to post and distribute information on human rights conditions in Tibet, and those posts don’t get deleted until after a week or so, allowing tens of thousands of Chinese netizens to see them.,” he said.
Weibo are Chinese microblogging sites similar to Twitter that are widely used by young people in China, with the government censoring out information it deems sensitive.