Taiwanese should always be on guard to act promptly against evil or unjust acts when they witness them if they want to protect the nation’s human rights and hard-won democracy, Chinese dissident Chen Guangcheng (陳光誠) said yesterday as he concluded his 18-day visit to Taiwan.
“When you see or sense that something wrong, do not wait, act right away. It is the most important step in defending civil rights,” said Chen, who is set to return to the US today after his first visit to Taiwan.
After arriving in Taipei on June 23, the activist made a speech in the Legislative Yuan before heading to central and southern Taiwan, where he visited local farmers and scenic spots.
During his stay, the 41-year-old blind lawyer also met with local legal groups, non-profit organizations and students.
Summing up his trip, Chen said he had gained even more confidence in the system of democracy and was sure that “the authoritarian regime in China is destined to fall and be replaced someday.”
Asked again by reporters about President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) and Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng’s (王金平) decisions not to meet with him and the political implications behind their moves, Chen again declined to give his opnion, merely saying that promoting human rights is not necessarily connected with who meets who.
Chen, who fled China last year, pledged to keep working hard to promote democracy and human rights there after returning to the US, but did not provide any information on where he would go after his one-year fellowship at New York University comes to an end.
In his last public appearance yesterday, the dissident was able to meet an old friend, Wuer Kaixi, at a symposium organized by the Chinese Association for Human Rights and the Taiwan Association for China Human Rights.
Wuer Kaixi was a prominent student leader during the 1989 Tiananmen Square pro-democracy protests in China and has lived in Taiwan for the past 16 years.
Praising Chen’s efforts in fighting for the Chinese people’s human rights, Wuer Kaixi lamented that while the two worked for different goals — Chen for human rights and Wuer Kaixi for political reform — both men are not tolerated by Beijing.
The former student leader, an ethnic Uighur who says he is now Taiwanese, then criticized Ma for not meeting Chen and refusing to grant a visa to World Uyghur Congress President Rebiya Kadeer.
“Ma has to explain why Taiwan is the only country in the world which bought into Beijing’s claim that Kadeer is a terrorist and should be denied entry,” he said.
Wuer Kaixi said everyone in Taiwan — in particular the politicians — should embrace and learn from Chen’s fearlessness in squaring up to Beijing.
“Only a fearless leader would be able to convince his people that there is no need to be scared of an authoritarian neighbor,” he said.