Safeguard Defenders has set up an office in Taipei, its first in Asia, the Spain-based human rights organization said yesterday.
“Taiwan was an obvious choice because of its open society and geographic proximity,” the non-governmental organization (NGO) said on its Web site.
Safeguard Defenders was established in 2016. Its predecessor was human rights organization China Action, which was set up by Swedish reporter Peter Dahlin, US human rights advocate Michael Caster and human rights lawyers in China.
Its operations in Taipei were set up as it is particularly concerned about deteriorating human rights in China and other authoritarian countries in Asia, Safeguard Defenders said.
Taiwan is a “progressive democracy” that ended authoritarian rule and has become a “popular base for civil society and media,” especially as the human rights situation is deteriorating in Hong Kong under the tightening control of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), it said.
It looks forward to “connecting to more human rights focused NGOs in Taiwan and promoting the rule of law,” as well as assisting human rights defenders in dictatorships, it said.
The office — which is in Taipei’s Zhongzheng District (中正) — has dedicated itself to supporting local action in Asian countries that have environments hostile to human rights and helping local residents defend human rights, it said.
It works with partners in Asia, including teachers, lawyers, independent media and civic organizations that promote and protect human rights and the rule of law, it said, adding that it can take on about a dozen projects at a time.
Its work focuses on “arbitrary detention, the black jail systems of RSDL and Liuzhi, forced confessions, transnational repression including global harassment and kidnappings, and the CCP’s secret police institution, the National Supervisory Commission,” the statement on the Web site says, with RSDL referring to “residential surveillance at a designated location” and Liuzhi being a “legalized system for disappearances.”
It has also reported on Taiwan-related topics, including that overseas Taiwanese were illegally sent to China rather than repatriated to Taiwan, then banned from traveling outside China after being released from prison.
In the next few months, the organization is to release reports on topics including China sending political prisoners to psychiatric hospitals, infringements on human rights in the name of preventing the spread of COVID-19 and how Beijing has weaponized travel restrictions against dissidents.
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