Sat, Jul 02, 2016 - Page 3 News List

Campaigners urge amendments to asylum regulations

By Abraham Gerber  /  Staff Reporter

Human rights campaigners yesterday called for amendments to the Act Governing Relations with Hong Kong and Macau (香港澳門關係條例) to facilitate asylum applications from there.

The call was made at a news conference in support of yesterday’s protests in Hong Kong, which marked the anniversary of the territory’s return to Chinese control.

“Taiwan should act as an ark for human rights as the people of Hong Kong and China face persecution,” Taiwan Association for China Human Rights chairman Yang Hsien-hung (楊憲宏) said, praising the passage of amendments to the Act Governing Relations Between the People of the Taiwan Area and the Mainland Area (臺灣地區與大陸地區人民關係條例) in the Legislative Yuan’s Internal Administration Committee on Monday.

The news conference was attended by lawmakers from the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) and the New Power Party.

Yang said the amendments will ease asylum applications for Chinese facing persecution by removing the requirements that they hold official Chinese papers and enter Taiwan legally.

However, amendments to the Act Governing Relations with Hong Kong and Macau are needed to allow for similar asylum conditions to applicants from the two territories, he said, urging the swift passage of proposed amendments sponsored by DPP legislators Yu Mei-nu (尤美女) and Wellington Koo (顧立雄).

Koo said that while the act contains provisions requiring the government to provide “necessary help” to residents of Hong Kong and Macau whose safety and freedom are threatened for political reasons, new provisions are necessary to improve their residency rights.

Hong Kong bookseller Lam Wing-kei (林榮基) has said he would choose Taiwan if he is eventually forced to seek political asylum.

Minister of the Interior Yeh Jiunn-rong (葉俊榮) last month said that a new legal mechanism would be needed to process an application from Lam if he sought to enter Taiwan for reasons other than tourism.

“Our hearts are with the people of Hong Kong today, because we face a similar threat; we also fear that our freedoms will be violated or stripped away,” Taiwan Citizen Media Cultural Association executive director Sylvia Feng (馮賢賢) said. “Our government should not drop its hands when dealing with people from China, Hong Kong or Macau who face political persecution because we are afraid of Chinese pressure. Maintaining the ‘status quo’ does not mean maintaining a ‘status quo’ in which freedoms face ever greater restrictions.”

“What has happened in Hong Kong could also end up happening here,” said Chris Su (蘇南洲), director of the Christian Arts Press, which prints Christian literature for the underground market in China, adding that an associate had been temporarily detained at a Chinese airport for his firm’s publication of “anti-revolutionary materials” regarding Hong Kong’s social movement, while a Hong Kong publisher was given a 10-year sentence for publishing a book by a banned author his firm also carries.

“I have published 10 books by that author. Does that mean I deserve a 100-year sentence?” he said.

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