Taipei, April 12 (CNA) Taiwan is indignant that Kenya police brandished submachine guns and tear gas to force 37 Taiwan nationals suspected of phone fraud to board a plane bound for China on Tuesday.
Considering the move a violation of Taiwan's jurisdiction over its nationals, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs lodged a strong protest to Nairobi after its efforts to block the move failed.
It came just days after Kenya handed over eight Taiwan nationals, who were acquitted by a Kenyan court of operating telecommunications equipment without a license on April 5, to China by putting them on a China Southern Airlines flight to China on April 8.
Antonio Chen (陳俊賢), director-general of MOFA's Department of West Asian and African Affairs, said he was notified at 3 a.m. Tuesday that Kenyan police intended to send 22 Taiwan nationals arrested on April 8 and 15 others also acquitted by the Kenyan court.
John C. Chen (陳忠), Taiwan's representative to South Africa, and other officials immediately went to the detention center to visit the 22 newly arrested suspects, though they ran into many difficulties in gaining access to them.
The suspects said they had been told by Kenyan authorities that Taiwan's government had bought them tickets to fly home, but John Chen told them it was not true. He also urged them to resist if Kenyan police tried to move them.
There was little they could do, however, as reports indicate Kenyan police using submachine guns to force the issue, according to Antonio Chen.
[The 15 Taiwanese resist deportation]
As for the 15 Taiwanese held at a police station who were found not guilty along with eight other Taiwanese on April 5, Antonio Chen said they adamantly opposed being sent to China and refused to be taken away by police.
Police overcame their resistance by using tear gas, and the 15 ultimately relented and boarded the same plane as the group of 22 Taiwanese.
Antonio Chen said Kenya's interior and foreign ministers decided that the group of 22 Taiwanese had no need to be put in trial in Kenya and listed them as persona non grata and sent them directly to China.
They were taken away by personnel from China's embassy in Nairobi and put on a plane bound for China.
John C. Chen tried to stop them and chased after them in a car, to no avail.
Antonio Chen said Kenyan police ignored the fact that Taiwan had obtained a court injunction that prohibited Taiwanese suspects from being taken away by force.
In addition to lodging a strong protest, the ministry will ask Kenya parliamentarians, human rights advocates and media to lend support to Taiwan and will work with lawyers to file suit against Kenyan police, Antonio Chen said.
Asked if Taiwan will sanction Kenya, he said the most the government could do is to impose soft sanctions, such as reminding Taiwanese that traveling to Kenya carries risk and trying to put Kenyan tourism in a negative light in the international community.
Antonio Chen said the ministry was not issuing a formal travel advisory for Kenya because travel advisories only apply to outbreaks of disease, disruptions in social order or terrorist attacks and would not be applicable in this instance.
Kenya has close ties with China, including growing dependence on Beijing for financial support, especially as financing from traditional foreign creditors Japan and France has stagnated or declined.
Just last week a new loan of 530 million euros from China was finalized to cover Kenya's budget deficit, according to an RFI (Radio France International) report on April 11.
That came not long after the World Bank warned in March that more Chinese loans could bring Kenya's heavy debt burden to unsustainable levels.
(By Tang Pei-chun and Lilian Wu)