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Cablegate: Democracy and Human Rights: Taiwan to (Again) Seek

VZCZCXRO5973
PP RUEHCN RUEHGH
DE RUEHIN #1728/01 3500634
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 150634Z DEC 08
FM AIT TAIPEI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 0565
INFO RUEHBJ/AMEMBASSY BEIJING 8796
RUEHUL/AMEMBASSY SEOUL 9948
RUEHKO/AMEMBASSY TOKYO 0433
RUEHIL/AMEMBASSY ISLAMABAD 0177
RUEHBUL/AMEMBASSY KABUL 0032
RUEHNE/AMEMBASSY NEW DELHI 0213
RUEHCN/AMCONSUL CHENGDU 2929
RUEHHK/AMCONSUL HONG KONG 0256
RUEHGH/AMCONSUL SHANGHAI 2352
RUEHSH/AMCONSUL SHENYANG 6879
RUEHGV/USMISSION GENEVA 1869
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK 0096
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHINGTON DC
RHHJJAA/JICPAC HONOLULU HI
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHINGTON DC
RHHMUNA/USPACOM HONOLULU HI

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 TAIPEI 001728

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: CH PGOV PHUM PREL TW
SUBJECT: DEMOCRACY AND HUMAN RIGHTS: TAIWAN TO (AGAIN) SEEK
LEGISLATIVE APPROVAL OF ICCPR

1. (SBU) Summary: Taiwan's executive branch will request the
Legislative Yuan to ratify the UN International Covenants on
Civil and Political Rights and Economic, Social, and Cultural
Rights, despite Taiwan's lack of standing in the UN,
President Ma Ying-jeou announced at a December 10 ceremony
marking International Human Rights Day. Ma's address, which
was interrupted both by pro-Tibet activists and by an
individual protesting the government's demolishment of an
aging leprosy sanatorium, emphasized the government's
commitment to preserving democratic freedoms and guaranteeing
human rights. Ma did not halt his speech, but acknowledged
the disturbances by observing that democratic Taiwan welcomes
the expression of differing opinions as long as they do not
infringe on the rights of others or break the law. Ma
presented the 2008 Asia Democracy and Human Rights Award to
Dr. Sima Samar, head of the Afghan Independent Human Rights
Commission and founder of the Shuhada Organization, an NGO
dedicated to the welfare and progress of Afghan people. End
Summary.

Executive Yuan to Request Legislature Ratify UN Conventions
--------------------------------------------- --------------

2. (SBU) Taiwan President Ma Ying-jeou used remarks at the
2008 Asia Democracy and Human Rights Award ceremony to
announce his decision to instruct the Executive Yuan to
submit on December 11 the UN International Covenant on Civil
and Political Rights (ICCPR) and the International Covenant
on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) to the
Legislative Yuan (LY) for ratification. Ma noted that,
although a signatory to the Universal Declaration of Human
Rights, Taiwan has never ratified the ICCPR or ICESCR.
(Comment: This is partly because Taiwan lacks status in the
UN, but also due to Taiwan's internal politics. Taiwan's
Executive Yuan, under DPP President Chen Shui-bian, began
seeking to pass the covenants in 2001 but failed to win the
support of the KMT-dominated LY. With both branches of
government now in KMT control, however, chances of passage
are far higher. End comment.)

Taiwan Still a "Beacon of Democracy"
------------------------------------

3. (SBU) In his remarks, Ma also addressed recent criticisms
leveled by opposition DPP supporters at the administration's
handling of demonstrations against ARATS Chairman Chen
Yun-Lin's November 3-7 visit to Taiwan and recent detentions
of opposition DPP officials. During the speech, two
pro-Tibet activists held up a Tibetan flag and picture of the
Dalai Lama, presumably protesting Ma's recent comments that
now was not an appropriate time for a visit by the Dalai
Lama. Later in the speech, another protester criticized
Taiwan's "fake" democracy, pulled out a banner and shouted
"the government intrudes upon the human rights of patients at
the Lo Sheng Sanatorium," referring to the government's move
to demolish part of the facility where persons who had
Hansen's disease have lived for decades. The President cited
the disruptions as indications of the state of freedom of
expression on Taiwan. He noted, though, that this freedom
must be exercised in accordance with the law and without
infringing on the rights of others. Having elections is not
enough as Taiwan's democracy enters a new stage. There must
be real guarantees of freedom, human rights, and rule of law.
Ma cited as an example his statements to government agencies
on the necessity of obtaining court orders for wiretaps. In
addition, to protect the rights of the accused, all police
interrogation rooms should be equipped with audio and video
recording devices to deter any abuses.

4. (SBU) Unlike the autocratic past, Taiwan today stands as a
society dedicated to upholding human rights and democracy, Ma
stressed, pointing out that Freedom House has continued to
rate Taiwan a fully free society since its 1996 annual

TAIPEI 00001728 002 OF 002


Freedom in the World report. Ma recounted President Bush's
congratulatory letter to Ma on his election this year, in
which President Bush commended Taiwan as a "beacon of
democracy." Ma assured the audience that Taiwan will remain
firmly committed to preserving democratic freedoms and
guaranteeing human rights.

Taiwan Foundation for Democracy
-------------------------------

5. (U) In 2002, MOFA established the Taiwan Foundation for
Democracy (TFD) to consolidate Taiwan's democracy, strengthen
its commitment to human rights domestically, and create
strong links with international organizations promoting
democracy. TFD began operations in 2003 and elected LY
Speaker Wang Jin-pyng as its first chairman. The TFD is
governed by a total of fifteen trustees and five supervisors,
representing political parties, the government, academia,
NGOs, and the business sector. The Taiwan authorities
provide primary funding for the Foundation.

The Asia Democracy and Human Rights Award
-----------------------------------------

6. (U) In 2006, TFD established an annual Asia Democracy and
Human Rights Award to honor individuals or organizations that
have demonstrated long-term commitment to advancing democracy
or human rights through peaceful means in Asia. The award
consists of a small sculpture and a USD 100,000 grant. This
year's award was granted to Dr. Sima Samar, Chair of the
Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission and the
founder of the Shuhada Organization, which provides health
care, education, orphanage, and training services in
Afghanistan and to Afghan refugees in Pakistan.
SYOUNG

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