A statement from Formosan Association for Human Rights on former President Chen regarding his inhuman imprisonment.
The Formosan Association for Human Rights (FAHR) condemns the inhuman imprisonment conditions of the wrongfully jailed former President of Taiwan, Chen Shui-bian. Chen, jailed since November 11, 2008, convicted on politically motivated corruption charges, was granted a temporary release from Taipei Prison on March 6, 2012 for a medical checkup at Taoyuan General Hospital because of his frail health. During the checkup, he was diagnosed with acute coronary syndrome and significantly reduced blood flow to the heart, a potentially fatal condition. Taipei Prison authorities had ignored Chen’s repeated requests for a hospital checkup for a month until being pressured by 13 legislators from opposition parties. Even so, the prison authorities had planned to return him back to the prison on the same day after the checkup. Chen is currently in the intensive care unit after undergoing an urgent cardiac catheterization procedure on March 7. A prostate tumor was also found during the checkup, among other undisclosed conditions.
FAHR urges Taipei Prison, the Ministry of Justice, and Presidential Office of Taiwan to set aside politics and to grant Chen a hospital stay sufficient for a thorough checkup and treatment until a full recovery is made. FAHR also calls on the opposition parties and people of Taiwan not to tolerate such inhuman treatment of the former president by the current Kuomintang government in Taiwan.
After being imprisoned over 1,200 days, Chen’s health has begun to rapidly deteriorate. The doctors at Taoyuan General Hospital attribute his poor health to long-term deprivation of sunlight, lack of exercise, and an inactive life style. Chen’s son, Chen Chih-chung, pointed out that his father has been jailed under an inhuman conditions and was allowed only 30 minutes each day for outdoor activities. Earlier this year, for nine straight days, he was even denied his daily exercise time. Unlike other inmates, who can work eight hours a day in prison factories, his father is essentially confined to a damp and undersized cell of about 70 square feet, 24 hours a day. Chen is not even allowed a desk and is forced to write on the floor. Such conditions are a direct violation of the minimum requirements for prisoners sanctioned by the UN, which requires that “every prisoner who is not employed in outdoor work shall have at least one hour of suitable exercise in the open air daily if the weather permits.” Ironically, the Minister of Justice in Taiwan cited security concerns as well as respect for a former head of state for barring Chen from working in the prison factory.
It is apparent that these inhuman imprisonment conditions have lead to the rapid deterioration of former President Chen’s health. FAHR condemns such inhuman and unlawful treatment of any prisoner, let alone a former President of Taiwan, twice elected to that office through democratic processes. FAHR also calls for international support for former President Chen’s basic human rights for proper medical treatment and, more importantly, for an appeal of wrongful imprisonment after he regains his health.
March, 10, 2012