Taiwanese-American groups are stepping up efforts to help former Republic of China in-exile President Chen Shui-bian. Chen, in his fourth year of imprisonment, is serving a lengthy sentence following a controversial trial for alleged political corruption involving so-called “soft money” while in office.
The Formosan Association for Human Rights has added its voice to the growing chorus of outrage at Chen’s treatment by the exiled Chinese government he once headed. Taiwan, a former Japanese territory, has been under Nationalist Chinese control since the United States imposed Chiang Kai-shek’s Kuomintang troops on the island in 1945.
The human rights group has sent a letter to U .S. Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Chair of the powerful House Foreign Affairs Committee urging intervention by the United States over Chen’s harsh treatment.
Confined to a tiny cell, Chen’s health has suffered in prison and it was recently disclosed that Chen had unknowingly, and without his consent, had been medicated with the psychiatric drug lorazepan for 14 months.
Lindac Lin, head of FAHR, wrote that the conditions of Chen’s imprisonment constitute a “blatant human right violation” and urged intervention. Details of Chen’s situation emerged in early March when he was hospitalized for cardiac catheterization. Lin noted, “Family members and friends are stunned after seeing his frail appearance as well as his unmistaken drop in mental sharpness and concentration during his hospital stay.”
Lin called Chen’s treatment by ROC officials “inhuman and unlawful” and asked Ros-Lehtinen to support “Chen’s basic human rights” to Congress.
The Formosan Association for Public Affairs has made a similar plea calling Chen’s treatment “inhumane” while the Taiwan Civil Rights Litigation Organization has called Chen’s plight the result of “evil”. TCRLO has suggested that it is time to invoke the Torture Victims Protection Act for Chen.
The American Citizens for Taiwan has urged application of internationally recognized minimum standards for Chen and called for self-determination for the island.
The United States is the principle occupying Power of Taiwan, also called Formosa, under the San Francisco Peace Treaty that ended World War II with Japan. The islanders, long promised self-determination, have been caught in a Cold War “strategic ambiguity” since the end of World War II.
In 2009, the District of Columbia U. S. Court of Appeals called Taiwan’s unresolved political status under the exiled government a case of “political purgatory” and urged President Barack Obama to resolve sovereignty.
Chen has claimed his prosecution was politically motivated because of his pro-Taiwanese views. Chen’s Kuomintang successor Ma Ying-jeou has declared he will not grant a pardon to Chen who still faces 18 years in prison.
April 5, 2012