Sat, May 04, 2019 - Page 3 News List

Rights advocates urge the nation to defend Assange

NO WORRIES?Linda Arrigo said that she is disappointed that so few journalists and Taiwanese are concerned about the WikiLeaks frontman’s plight

By Jason Pan  /  Staff reporter

Rights advocate Linda Arrigo, second right, speaks at a news conference held by the Tree Party in support of WikiLeaks frontman Julian Assange at the Legislative Yuan in Taipei yesterday.

Photo: CNA

Taiwanese should defend WikiLeaks frontman Julian Assange and WikiLeaks whistle-blower Chelsea Manning, rights advocates Linda Arrigo and Curtis Smith said at an event on World Press Freedom Day yesterday alongside members of the Trees Party and the Social Democratic Party.

Taiwan must play a part in demanding the release of Assange and Manning, with demonstrations outside US embassies and consulate offices in many nations coordinated by organizations that advocate freedom of the press, freedom of information and freedom of publication, Trees Party Secretary-General Pan Han-sheng (潘翰聲) said.

“It is important for Taiwan to take up the cause to defend journalists and whistle-blowers, because May 3 is World Press Freedom Day, but in Taiwan most people are not aware of this,” Pan said.

A draft whistle-blower protection act has been submitted to the legislature and people should stand up to defend Assange, the world’s most famous whistle-blower, who is detained in the UK and facing extradition to the US, Pan said.

Social Democratic Party member Cheng Hao-chung (鄭皓中) said that there are lessons to be learned from the political persecution of Assange and WikiLeaks.

“Taiwan threw off the yoke of Japanese colonialism after [World War II], but then with the US’ help, another colonial regime from China in the form of Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) came to rule over Taiwanese,” Cheng said. “The KMT regime’s imposition of martial law saw many atrocities and severe repression of the people during the White Terror era. The US gave tacit approval to the atrocities and injustices, because it propped up the KMT regime during the Cold War, as it conformed to US interests at the time.”

“Unfortunately, there was no WikiLeaks then, with Taiwanese living in a prison state with restrictions on news and information from abroad, and our lives were affected by the policies of the US government,” he said. “Now we have freedom to access information, so we must defend Assange and WikiLeaks, because to know the truth is the best weapon oppressed people have to fight against authoritarian regimes.”

Arrigo said that she is disappointed that so few journalists and ordinary Taiwanese are concerned about Assange’s plight, as well as Manning’s, a former US soldier who was jailed for passing on classified military information to WikiLeaks and for refusing to testify against Assange.

Amnesty International Taiwan released a statement calling on the UK not to extradite Assange.

“He should not be sent to any place where he could face the death penalty, torture or other ill treatment,” it said.

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