The Prebyterian Church of Taiwan Adds its Voice to Questioning the Government of Ma ying-jeou
Friday November 14, by Jerome F. Keating Ph.D.
The Presbyterian Church of Taiwan, a long-time and a staunch supporter of human rights and democracy in Taiwan has added its voice to the growing criticism and disillusionment with the government of Ma Ying-jeou and the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT). The following letter explains.
THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF THE PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH IN TAIWAN
3, Lane 269, Roosevelt Road Sec. 3, Taipei 10647 TAIWAN
General Secretary: Rev. Andrew T. C. Chang
11 November 2008
AN APPEAL BY PCT TO THE GLOBAL CHURCH FAMILY FOR PRAYERS CONCERNING THE ABUSE OF JUSTICE AND VIOLATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS IN TAIWAN
On behalf of the Presbyterian Church in Taiwan (PCT) and out of unyielding concern for the dignity and selfhood of the 23 million people of our nation, as well as for peace in the Asia region, we sincerely appeal to you our sisters and brothers in Christ to join us in expressing concern and offering prayers for Taiwan.
Ever since the Legislative Elections of January 2008 when the Nationalist Party (Kuomintang KMT) garnered the overwhelming majority of seats and later the KMT candidate, Ma Ying-Jeou, won the Presidential Election on 20 May 2008, the Presbyterian Church in Taiwan (PCT), along with many others in our land, have held deep concerns and reservations for the future of democracy and human rights in our country Taiwan.
Sadly, the performance of President Ma and his KMT administration the past six months has time and again underscored our fears. We in particular express our grave concern for recent events:
1) the detentions of both present and former government officials of the opposition party, Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) accused of corruption. We understand one or two detainees have been charged but several accused are still held without being charged and incommunicado, this is a basic violation of due process of justice and rule of law. Furthermore, we are concerned the prosecutor's office is seemingly leaking information to the press while the accused are unable to defend themselves. This trial by press also violates justice and the norm that any accused should be considered innocent until proven guilty in a court of law. Since only members of the DPP opposition party are targeted this action implies the KMT is using the justice system to retaliate the former government under Chen's administration.
2) the visit to Taiwan (3-7 Nov 2008) of Mr. Chen Yun-Lin, Chairman of the Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Strait (ARATS) from China; and the signing of the four cross-strait accords between the ARATS chairman Chen and the Straits Exchange Foundation (SEF) represented by its Chairman, Chiang Pin-Kung. This action to develop direct aviation, shipping, market trade and economic relations with China accelerated fears that the methods used by the Ma Administration are costly in terms of the legal process, Taiwan's dignity and sovereignty as well as being a real threat to democracy in Taiwan.
3) the violation of human rights, freedom of speech and expression, undergirded by the government's action to deploy more than 10,000 police including riot police officers, to Taipei city to "guard" the visiting dignitary Chen and the sixty people who accompanied him. These measures to "guard and protect" the visiting envoy from China were excessive and disturbingly reminiscent of the dark years under Martial Law.
With this letter we add a brief overview of some of the events of last week that hopefully will help you further understand the reason for our concerns.
On behalf of the PCT and Taiwan, thank you for your support and we ask that you kindly share this prayer request with your church members.
Sincerely yours, in grace and peace
Rev. Chang Te-Chien (Andrew)
Taiwan 3-7 Nov 2008 during the visit of Mr. Chen Yun-Lin, Chairman of the Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Strait (ARATS) from China and the signing of the four cross-strait accords between the ARATS chairman Chen and the Straits Exchange Foundation (SEF) represented by its Chairman, Chiang Pin-Kung.
We cannot highlight fully the details here but draw your attention to some pointers that will hopefully, help clarify to you our deep concerns. Contrary to the claims of President Ma that he represents the views and interests of all the 23 million people of this country thousands of protesters gathered in Taipei daily to express their deep concern and opposition to the visit of ARATS, the legal process of signing the so called four cross-strait accords and the deployment of thousands of police.
Police prohibited protesters from waving or displaying the national flag and one CD shop was closed for playing Taiwanese music too loud in the vicinity of a hotel where Chen was dined. On the other hand, ironically those wielding the flag of communist China were not approached.
In a blatant attempt to avoid a scheduled protest by the DPP on Thursday 6 Nov. originally arranged to coincide with an afternoon meeting between President Ma and chairman Chen, the government at short notice brought the meeting forward to the morning and what was announced as 40 minutes audience was drastically reduced to 7 minutes before Chen and his entourage were whisked away to their next appointment. Such action did nothing but add fuel to fire.
The Association of Taiwan Journalist (ATJ) also released a statement accusing the government of violating press freedom as they sought to cover the visit of ARATS Chen and there were incidents of news reporters beaten by the police during angry clashes with protesters. Members of the public also believed there were undercover persons mingling among the protesters instigating disruptive behavior.
The Presbyterian Church in Taiwan (PCT) Church and Society Committee to protest the violation of human rights, to express our deep rooted concern for the safeguarding of Taiwan's sovereignty and democracy as well as upholding peace in our society, arranged a separate demonstration on Thursday (6 Nov) walking from Chinan Presybterian Church towards the Grand Hotel where Chen and the ARATS personnel were accommodated though they were not in. As was the practice all that week, inevitably, riot police barricading the road denied us access even to the vicinity of the hotel. PCT protesters simply sat down to sing and after a prayer for the police etc. we dispersed.
At this current time of writing, students in various locations in Taiwan are staging a sit in protest and have issued a written petition demanding
- the President and Premier apologize for the use of excessive force by police
- two senior police and security personnel step down, and
- the government scrap the Parade and Assembly Law.
For related news reports in English visit the archives of:
Prepared by The Presbyterian Church in Taiwan (PCT)