Saturday, November 22, 2008

Freedom House Calls for Inquiry into Clashes

Freedom House had some tough words to say on behalf of Taiwan this week (emphasis mine):

"A public investigation of the violence—which involved both sides—will send a critical message that the new government of President Ma Ying-jeou is interested in upholding the democratic values of transparency and accountability," said Jennifer Windsor, Freedom House executive director. "The inquiry should examine evidence on both sides and recommend any needed reforms to police practices and the legal framework governing demonstrations."

Hundreds of university students are currently staging a sit-in in Taipei's Freedom Square and several other cities to protest the government's handling of the incident. During Chen’s visit, police reportedly used heavy-handed tactics—including physical assault, arbitrary detention and destruction of property—to prevent Chen from seeing symbols of Taiwanese or Tibetan independence, as well as broader demonstrations against the Chinese regime. Demonstrators also employed violence against police, throwing rocks and petrol bombs outside Chen's hotel on November 6.

The clashes reveal a need for police to undergo crowd control training that adheres to the standards used in other democracies. Likewise, demonstrators and political advocacy groups must recommit themselves to orderly protests that avoid violence under any circumstances.

The inquiry commission should examine controversial passages in Taiwan's Assembly and Parade Law, such as restrictions on where people are allowed to demonstrate, and determine whether they need to be liberalized to protect citizens' rights to freedom of expression and assembly. The commission should also investigate claims that police are selectively enforcing the law.

The visit by Chen, the most senior Chinese official to visit Taiwan since it split from China in 1949, and the recent arrests of several opposition party figures are raising concerns that that President Ma and his Kuomintang Party may rollback democratic freedoms.

They hit on everything -- police behavior, student protests, general fears about democracy. Nice work, guys.


Raj said...

Good work, gentlemen.

So, Clinton for Secretary of State. I didn't quite get a full response on this - is there anything that can be taken as a postive for Taiwan?

I know Bill was reasonably supportive of arms sales - perhaps he might prod his wife to be more flexible than State was under Rice. Certainly during the nomination campaigns Clinton reportedly got more money from defence firms than Obama or McCain - that wouldn't have happened if they thought she was hostile to arms sales to a big customer like Taiwan.

Raj said...

Also some guy called General James Jones for national security advisor?

From The Times:

A retired Marine general and former Nato commander is emerging as a leading contender to become Barack Obama’s national security adviser, the most important foreign policy post in the White House.

James Jones, a decorated Vietnam veteran and former Supreme Allied Commander in Europe, is admired by Republicans and Democrats - he is a close friend of John McCain – and would bring particular expertise on Iraq and Afghanistan, two of Mr Obama’s overseas priorities when he takes office on January 20.

No final decision has been made on the post, but the serious consideration being given to General Jones reflects the President-elect’s determination to put together a bipartisan team of strong characters and former rivals. General Jones is also close to Hillary Clinton, and yet enjoys such cross-party appeal that in 2006 he was twice asked by Condoleezza Rice, President Bush’s Secretary of State, to be her deputy. He declined.

tipping888 said...

Dear Michael,

I don't know if you heard about this news - Yahoo! Taiwan shut down a popular blog, Mango Daily. I wrote an article about this case and wish you can support Taiwanse bloggers to get attention from international community and human rights group.

Yahoo! Taiwan shut down a popular personal blog - Mango Daily ( on Nov.21, 2008. Mango Daily is a popular and awarded blog that voices for Taiwanese democracy.

Mango Daily's recent article about a protest rally against China envoy's visit to Taiwan infuriated a riot control policeman and that officer asked Yahoo! to shut down Mango Daily. Yahoo! removed a Mango Daily's article and finally shut down that blog on 3:00pm, Nov.21, 2008. Again, Yahoo! played its role as an agent of totalitarian.

Yahoo! was notorious for its cooperation with totalitarian. In 2004, Yahoo! provided users' IP information to Chinese government and that led to Chinese journalist Shi Tao's 10 years of sentence in Chinese prison. (Shi Tao was a journalist, but not Jack Bauer. 24's(Fox TV) Jack Bauer was in Chinese prison only for 20 months)

It seems that Yahoo! did not learn any lesson from Shi Tao's case. Furthermore, Chinese government might get its dirty hands in Taiwanese democracy with the assistance of Yahoo! (Hong Kong) Holdings Ltd. Yahoo! (Hong Kong) Holdings' shamful behavior directly led to the conviction of a good journalist.

From recent Mango Daily's case, Taiwanese people who own blogs and email accounts at Yahoo! should be very careful with Yahoo's human rights record.