Sun, May 12, 2013 - Page 3 News List

INTERVIEW: Democracy Watch speaks on ‘Declaration’

A group of Taiwanese academics at Taiwan Democracy Watch recently published a manifesto titled ‘A Declaration of Free Men,’ aimed at reframing cross-strait relations, which it said have prized economic prosperity above everything else and have been monopolized by egotistical politicians on both sides of the Strait. Academia Sinica Institute of Sociology associate research fellow Wu Jieh-min, one of the manifesto’s drafters, commented on the manifesto in an interview with ‘Liberty Times’ (sister newspaper of the ‘Taipei Times’) reporter Tzou Jiing-wen and called on the public to protect their democratic way of life by employing the ‘weapon of human rights’

Foreign journalists were beaten by unknown men after trying to visit Liu Xia, who, despite being a brave soul, was seen crying and trembling uncontrollably in a YouTube video [of her first interview since being detained.]

It is also this very regime that had imprisoned human rights lawyer Chen Guangcheng (陳光誠) and tried to prevent him from telling the truth.

After Chen’s release, Beijing has poured tens of millions of yuan each year into efforts to place his entire family under house arrest and bar them from contact with the outside world, all in the name of “maintaining social stability.”

The persecution of Chen’s family continued even after the activist escaped house detention and fled to the US. In the meantime, tens of thousands of Chinese petitioners have been treated as criminals, thrown into black jails and [forcibly] admitted to psychiatric facilities.

As we speak, this regime that claims our nation as its own has enacted the “Anti-Secession” Law [a controversial act in 2005 that legalized the use of “non-peaceful” means to stop Taiwan’s independence], has 2,000 missiles aimed at Taiwan and is intruding in our nation with its currency.

Nevertheless, all we ask of Beijing is to treat its people better and guarantee the personal freedom of Taiwanese businesspeople and students in China. Are these requests too arrogant?

We, standing on the weaker side of the long-standing political standoff, are only beseeching it to restrain its “strong desire to devour.” Who is really the arrogant one here, Beijing or us?

While we are on the topic of “democratic triumphalism,” we do appreciate friendly reminders from our friends on the other side of the Strait, such as [exiled Chinese democracy activist] Wang Dan (王丹).

Democratic dialogue between two societies is a process of mutual understanding between two [groups of people that have] different ways of living and varied kinds of revolutionary spirits.

Countless numbers of revered civil rights activists have dedicated their lives to fighting for freedom in China.

Therefore, we must carry out cross-strait exchanges with a modest mindset by recognizing each side of the Strait as a separate entity, for it is a process of mutual learning, not a rivalry of who should advise who.

The declaration incorporates some of the demands from Charter 08 [a manifesto drafted and signed by Chinese intellectuals in 2008 calling for reform of China’s human rights] into its “early harvest human rights list,” which is our way of expressing respect for democratic movements in China.

LT: Some media outlets also ridiculed the “Declaration of Free Men” by comparing it to the Tao Te Ching [道德經, an ancient Chinese collection of spiritual discourses.] What are your views on this?

Wu: The declaration is comprised of our guiding principles [on human rights], [short, medium and long-term] objectives for both sides of the Taiwan Strait, as well as concrete measures for them to achieve the goals.

We aim to prod our government and political parties to march toward these objectives while having the nation’s representatives place those issues on the cross-strait negotiating table.

These goals are by no means empty talk.

Those who intentionally disregard the substantial measures we put forward in the manifesto, adopt a careless attitude and sneer at our innovative thinking are cynics.

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