Taiwan’s human rights activists have been praised for their two and a half decades of “tireless” activism by Amnesty International’s Secretary General, Salil Shetty, during a three-day visit to the country, where he also highlighted the government’s failure to live up to its commitments to stop torture.
Salil Shetty gave these messages on Saturday to a crowd of activists gathered at the Human rights Memorial Park in Taipei that was previously a military prison.
The address formed part of the celebrations to mark the 25th anniversary of the first Amnesty groups being formed in Taiwan following the lifting of Martial Law.
“The Taiwanese people have demonstrated tireless activism and a sheer commitment to protecting fundamental freedoms over the past quarter of a century,” said Salil Shetty.
“Sadly, though, the Taiwanese government has failed to answer their calls. The government must demonstrate it is serious about human rights, beginning with delivering on its commitments to stop torture.”
He urged the authorities to incorporate the UN Convention Against Torture into domestic laws and establish a national mechanism to prevent future abuses.
“People have too often paid a high price for standing up for human rights, including here in Taiwan. Yet, I can see there is genuine hope for the future,” said Salil Shetty.
“It is wonderful that Taiwanese activists today are making their voices heard loud and clear. The Sunflower movement has shown the important role young people can play. Taiwan is ready to become a much bigger player in the global human rights movement—and I am proud that Amnesty International is a part of that.”
The 25th anniversary celebrations culminated with a benefit concert featuring leading Taiwanese rock and roll band Chthonic on Saturday night.
On Friday, Salil Shetty met with Vice President Wu Den-yih, where he stressed the need for the government to address the critical issue of preventing torture in Taiwan.
He also called on Vice President Wu Den-yih to include human rights in the government’s dialogue with China, and to ensure the people’s right to peaceful protest.
Sail Shetty’s visit took place ahead of the 25th Anniversary of the Tiananmen crackdown in China on 4 June 2014.
“The Human Rights Park in Taipei is dedicated to preserving the memory of past abuses in Taiwan. It is terrible that such commemoration is not possible for those in China who want to remember the victims of Tiananmen—and it is a stark reminder why we must all join together to protect the rights of our future generations in Asia, and across the world,” said Salil Shetty.