Premier Liu Chao-shiuan (劉兆玄) yesterday offered an apology to patients with Hansen’s disease— also known as leprosy — for the “grievance” and “unequal treatment” they have suffered in the past, promising that his administration would take good care of their nursing and medical needs.
The apology came six months after the enactment of the Act of Human Rights Protection and Compensation for Hansen’s Disease Patients (漢生病病患人權保障及補償條例), which detailed measures the government must take to care for leprosy sufferers.
Making a public apology was one of the requirements of the Act as a way to restore the reputations of the patients, who had been labeled contagious and forced to live at the Losheng Sanatorium since Japanese colonial rule in the 1920s.
The segregation policy was continued by the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) government when it came to power and was not ended until the 1960s, despite the fact that a cure was found in the 1940s and it was proven that the disease was not infectious once treated.
Despite the lifting of the segregation policy, activists criticized the former Democratic Progressive Pary (DPP) government for failing to help the patients — many of whom have suffered deformities and skin disorders — return to the society and to end the social stigma and discrimination against the patients.
In Liu’s apology yesterday, he said that previous governments had not taken a positive and effective approach to end the discrimination against Hansen’s disease patients, which had led to an impairment of their dignity and human rights.
Former president Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) in 2005 also offered an apology to leprosy patients, but his DPP administration supported tearing down the sanatorium to make way for a mass rapid transit system maintenance depot. Preservationists and residents who believe the sanatorium has important historic value for the nation’s public health and human rights history protested and began a prolonged campaign for its preservation. The government finally made a decision in 2007 to preserve 49 buildings on the campus, with 10 of them to be relocated.
Having been halted for years because of the controversy over Losheng, the construction of the maintenance depot finally restarted in December, after police forcibly removed preservationists who were still not happy about the new plans and residents who refused to leave.
Later yesterday, Department of Health Minister Yeh Ching-chuan (葉金川) also visited Losheng and offered an apology on behalf of the government to the residents over the isolation policy in the past — however, not all the residents reacted positively to the gesture.
While some Losheng residents welcomed Yeh’s apology and thanked him for renovating some of the buildings, others did not.
“I will not accept the government’s apology, because they did not apologize for what they did to me in December,” said Lan Tsai-yun (藍彩雲), a Losheng resident who was removed by the police from the Joan of Arc House. “I asked them to give me two more weeks to pack, but they refused. They cut the power and water while I was still inside, then they cut through the door with an electric saw and took me away by force. But look, Joan of Arc House still stands there today, a month after that incident — why couldn’t they give me two more weeks?”
Lee Tien-pei (李添培), another Losheng resident and chairman of the Losheng Self-Help Organization, said he had lost confidence in the government.
“Just saying ‘sorry’ doesn’t help — I’ll wait to see if they will fulfill their promises,” Lee said, referring to Yeh’s promise that no building would be damaged during the construction and that residents may move back to the preserved houses afterward.
NBA player Enes Kanter Freedom has taken to social media to urge Jeremy Lin (林書豪) to “stand with Taiwan” and stop taking “dirty Chinese Communist Party money.” “Haven’t you had enough of that Dirty Chinese Communist Party money feeding you to stay silent?” Freedom wrote on Facebook and Twitter on Sunday. The 29-year-old Boston Celtics center, who took a new surname when he became a US citizen on Monday last week, urged Lin: “Stand with Taiwan! Stop bowing to money & the Dictatorship.” Lin, a US citizen of Taiwanese descent who last year obtained a Taiwanese passport, has not responded to Freedom. Lin is
PAST CATCHING UP: Raphael Lin was last year convicted of intimidating his girlfriend at the time, and in 2015 allegedly confined his parents and assaulted his mother Doctoral student and media commentator Raphael Lin (林秉樞) is in detention and has had his communication rights limited after he was arrested on Wednesday for allegedly subjecting Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Kao Chia-yu (高嘉瑜) to two days of violence in a hotel room, the New Taipei District Court said yesterday. The New Taipei City Prosecutors’ Office had filed a request to detain Lin — who was Kao’s boyfriend at the time of the incident — with the court approving the request early yesterday. The prosecutors’ office said that it is likely to charge Lin with seven offenses: assault causing bodily harm, violating
A COVID-19 vaccine trial carried out in Taiwan has found that a combination of the AstraZeneca and the locally developed Medigen vaccines is more effective than two doses of AstraZeneca, the research team said on Saturday. The trial, which was initiated by Chang Gung Memorial Hospital, examined 100 people aged 22 to 62 divided into two groups: One group was vaccinated with two AstraZeneca doses, while the other received a first dose of AstraZeneca and a second dose of Medigen, team leader Chen Chih-jung (陳志榮) said. The geometric mean titers (GMTs) of neutralizing antibodies in the mix-and-match group after 10 days were
Toads are a symbol of prosperity and good fortune in Taiwan, but the unexpected discovery of an invasive species has officials and environmentalists scrambling to contain their spread. With flashlights in hand and shielded by protective gloves, dozens of volunteers from the Taiwan Amphibian Conservation Society worked through the night searching rice fields and vegetable plots for their quarry — the cane toad. There should be no reason for these large and highly toxic amphibians to exist in Caotun (草屯), a township in the foothills of the central mountain range. Cane toads are indigenous to South and Central America, and while they have