Taiwan's human rights progress a matter of 'facing history': Tsai

12/05/2020 05:46 PM
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President Tsai Ing-wen greets guests attending the event in New Taipei. CNA photo Dec. 5, 2020
President Tsai Ing-wen greets guests attending the event in New Taipei. CNA photo Dec. 5, 2020

Taipei, Dec. 5 (CNA) President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) said Saturday that Taiwan had deepened its commitment to human rights over the past four years, but said the country must continue facing up to the past if it is to build a better future.

In a ceremony at the National Human Rights Museum in Taipei ahead of international Human Rights Day on Dec. 10, Tsai laid out the progress her administration has made to guarantee human rights and redress historical wrongs since taking office in 2016.

First, she said, Taiwan has established an organization to promote transitional justice, which has worked to overturn the convictions of victims of political persecution, published historical investigations, and popularized the concept of transitional justice among the general public.

At the same time, the government has announced the Political Archives Act, providing a legal basis for the inventory and release of political and intelligence documents from Taiwan's period of authoritarian rule and martial law, she said.

Second, Tsai said, Taiwan has founded the National Human Rights Museum, which has won international renown not only for its for static exhibits and research, but also its collaborations in the fields of literature, art, music and theater.

Taiwan has also set up the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), which fully adheres to the United Nations' Paris Principles on the responsibilities of national human rights institutions, she said.

NHRC head Chen Chu (陳菊) is herself a former political prisoner, Tsai added, making her uniquely capable of understanding the pressure and pain that many victims of government prosecution and their family members face.

Speaking of the significance of the three institutions, Tsai said: "Only when we face up to the pain in our history and resolve to stop repeating it can we come together to build a common future."

During her own remarks, Chen recalled the six years and two months she spent as a political prisoner in the 1980s, and said it fills her with hope to see the government treating historical human rights abuses with the seriousness they deserve.

(By Wen Kuei-hsiang and Matthew Mazzetta)

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