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Taiwan mayor critisizes China rights abuses
AFAR
11/17/2003



KAOHSIUNG, TAIWAN – The Mayor of Kaohsiung, one of the largest cities in Taiwan, publicly addressed China's human rights situation and openly condemned recent arrests of Taiwanese Falun Gong practitioners in Mainland China.

Concerning the incarceration of four Taiwanese women, Hsieh Ch’angting said, “China is obviously violating human rights in detaining four Taiwan citizens illegally.” He called out for cases of human rights violations to be made public as soon as they happen, otherwise people will only hear positive news that is reported about in China. He hopes everyone will report the under-handed deeds of the Chinese government and use this as an important reference in future talks between both sides.

Regarding the horrendous human rights situation in China, Mayor Hsieh Ch’angting hopes that the Chinese Government will improve the human rights situation as soon as possible, instead of going against the mainstream of the world. It is his opinion that these activities will raise awareness, and the ban on Falun Gong by the Chinese government will be lifted sooner.

Hsieh Ch’angting said, “In its persecution of Falun Gong, China would ask the [arrested] person, ‘Are you practicing Falun Gong?’ Since Falun Gong practitioners do not tell lies, he would answer, ‘yes.’ Since he is so sincere, it shows he is a good man, isn’t that right? Otherwise he would have lied! Yet China uses this as an excuse to arrest good people.”

Gathering in Kaohsiung on the 10th, two groups of Falun Gong practitioners participated in an awareness-raising, island-wide bicycle tour which crisscrossed the island. At 2 PM, Chang Ch’inghsi, chairman of the Taiwan Falun Dafa Association and representatives of the participants met with the mayor of Kaohsiung City, Hsieh Ch’angting. Mayor Hsieh said, “Falun Gong practitioners uphold the values of Truth, Compassion, Forbearance. Yet China illegally detained practitioners. This is obviously a violation of human rights.” He urged victims to go public with their cases to help the government assess a fair exchange between the two countries.

Yang Guoyou, who took part in the cycle tour, told Hsieh Ch’angting, “Falun Gong practitioners are not involved in politics and are not against the Chinese government. Whether it this island-wide bicycle tour or a worldwide ‘Bring Jiang Zemin to Justice’ activity, we only focus on the small group of people responsible for the persecution such as Jiang Zemin or the ‘610’ office,” said Yang.

Chang Ch’inghsi, chairman of the Taiwan Falun Dafa Association, added that because Falun Gong practitioners are not involved in politics, they do not cling to power. “Politicians are welcome to join our practice. Practitioners should fulfill their obligations and responsibilities as citizens. Although they are not involved in politics it doesn’t mean they do not vote, on the contrary, practitioners do their best to meet common social requirements,” said Chang.

“To those just finishing their tour, as Taiwanese it is very difficult to imagine the feeling of not having freedom of thought, let alone experiencing that kind of life,” said the Mayor. He said that since Falun Gong is a righteous exercise emphasizing virtue and character, he disagrees with the way that the Chinese government defames Falun Gong as an illegal organization and spreads rumors among its people. Hsieh Ch’angting also mentioned that besides the persecution of Falun Gong, the development of other qigong exercise practices and religions are also under strict control. The average Taiwanese citizen may think Falun Gong has nothing to do with them, as they probably don’t know the exercises and other activities they perform in Taiwan’s parks may be forbidden or under persecution in China.

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