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Call for Immediate Medical Parole for Former President Chen
On the Principle of Basic Human Rights for Medical Treatments
Former President of Taiwan, Chen Shui-Bian, has been jailed for over four years since he was first placed under custody without an indictment while government was building its cases. Currently, he is serving a 19-year sentence in Taipei Prison, convicted with questionable court proceedings (procedures?). In the last two years, he has developed various symptoms, such as chest pain, respiratory distress, stomachache, numbness, tingling and chills, cold limbs, as well as clammy skin. Under pressure, the prison authority finally sent him to Tao-Yuan General Hospital twice for a series of checkups. Most recently, he was sent to Chang Gung Memorial Hospital, a medical center, for more detailed examinations even though the prison authority limited the examinations to only six hours. It is found, without doubt, that President Chen is suffering from various illnesses, including gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), duodenitis over the anterior wall of the duodenum, rectal erosion, coronary artery disease, atelectasis in his left lung, hemorrhage, blood clots in his seminal vesicles, prostatitis, hyperlipidemia , as well as mental conditions caused by anxiety and depression.
Why did former President Chen develop so many physical and mental symptoms in such a short time? The answer is self-evident if we put his career and his current imprisonment in perspective. President Chen has devoted to public service since he gave up his lucrative law firm and joined the legal team for the wrongly accused defendants of the Formosa Incident in 1980. From that point on, he has been elected as a Taipei City councilor, a legislator, Mayor of Taipei City, and President of Taiwan for two terms over eight years. For over thirty years, he has devoted his whole life to promoting democracy, social justice, and human rights of Taiwan. However, ever since he stepped down from his presidency in 2008, he has been incarcerated and subject to endless lawsuits and smearing campaigns brought by the current Nationalist government.
With his strong character, his current imprisonment has contributed immensely to the deterioration of his physical and mental states. For example, through endoscopy, we discovered that he has been suffering from GERD and there is ulcer caused by the gastric acid in his the lower esophageal sphincter, which is unable to hold the top of the stomach closed. His GERD is directly caused by his imprisonment condition. Because his jail cell, shared by one other inmate, is only 60 square feet, a size too small to have a bed, a desk, and a chair, he is forced to write on the ground with his stomach pressing against the concrete floor. The build-up of his stomach pressure has contributed to his GERD and renders medication ineffective. The doctors advised President Chen to stop writing articles in order to relieve his GERD symptoms. However, President Chen responded by saying “I am trapped in this small cell for nearly twenty-four hours a day. If I don’t try to write something, I will go crazy.” His strong character allows him to find a way to maintain his sanity and mental integrity even under the most dire situation. However, it is most regretful that the prison authority continues these cruel and unusual imprisonment conditions and treatments against him despite being informed by the doctors about their detrimental effects on his physical and mental states.
As another example, other inmates are allowed to leave their cells and work in prison factories eight hours a day. However, the prison authority denies President Chen this basic right citing safety reasons. Each day, he is only allowed to leave his cell for thirty minutes for outdoor exercise. Essentially, he is trapped in this unbelievably small cell nearly twenty-four hours a day. In other words, he has been subject to solitary confinement punishment for the last four years, leading to his current severely traumatized physical and mental states.
Even convicted inmates should not be denied their basic human rights according to international human rights principles. President Chen, with his various and serious illnesses, must receive necessary medical treatments in a proper medical facility away from the disease causing environment of the prison without delay.
Based on the principle of basic human rights for medical treatments, we call for immediate medical parole for President Chen.
Lead Petitioners (no specific order)
Wen-Je Ko, MD, Senior Staff, Surgical Intensive Care Unit, Department of Surgery; Chairman, Department of Traumatology, National Taiwan University Hospital, Taipei, Taiwan
Cheng-Deng Kuo, MD, PhD, Principal Investigator and Director, Division of Medical Research, Department of Medical Research and Education, Taipei Veterans General Hospital; and Professor, Institute of Emergency and Critical Care Medicine, National Yang-Ming University, Taipei, Taiwan
Chang-Feng Kuo, MD, Vice Superintendent, Taipei Hospital, Department of Health, Taipei, Taiwan
Chiao-Chicy Chen, MD, PhD, Professor and Staff Psychiatrist, Mackay Memorial Hospital, Taipei, Taiwan
Janice Chen, Pharmacist, Former Chairperson of Taiwan Society North, Taiwan
Yeh-Shen Chang, MD, Family Physician, Former Chairperson of Taiwan Society Hakka, Taiwan
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( Note：It was thanks to Prof. Jay Tu to tranlate this article into English. - Taiwan eNews)
陳前總統歷經羈押、起訴與受刑已經 4 年之多。兩年多來陳前總統因為胸悶、呼吸窘迫、胃痛與胃部灼熱感、身體麻木、刺痛與畏寒、四肢冰冷、皮膚濕黏，兩度被送到行政院衛生署桃園醫院進行一系列的檢查。最近更被送到醫學中心級醫院-林口長庚醫院接受更精密的檢查。各項檢查結果顯示陳前總統有逆流性食道炎(胃食道逆流)、十二指腸前壁炎、直腸糜爛、心臟冠狀動脈疾病、左下肺葉塌陷、輸精管出血(血塊)、攝護腺炎、高血脂症，以及混合焦慮與憂鬱情緒。
這些生理與心理的表現與他的性格與目前的處境大有關聯。舉例來說，內視鏡檢查發現胃食道逆流，食道的下端有胃酸造成的腐蝕，這是因為兩人共用的 1.3 坪牢房既裝不下床，也沒有桌椅；陳前總統因此必須趴在地上寫字，頂著肚子造成腹壓增高，所以胃食道逆流的症狀難以改善。醫師們建議總統就不要寫了，他回答說：「我整天關在這裡，我不強迫自己寫一點東西，會先瘋掉」。他的個性使他即使在最困苦的環境裡，仍然保持健全的自我功能。但是許多不對的方法與措施，使陳前總統的身心狀態持續惡化，非常令人扼腕。
又譬如，一般收容人每天可以下工場活動約8 小時，但北監以無法維持安全等理由，剝奪陳前總統這一個基本權利，讓他形同被關禁閉一般。除了在天候允許情況下可以有每日30 分鐘的放風外，可以說一天24 小時都被禁錮在狹小到令人不敢置信的環境裡，經年累月，身心俱受重創！
郭正典 台北榮總醫學研究科主任 陽明大學急診暨重症醫學研究所教授
陳喬琪 馬偕紀念醫院精神科主治醫師 台北醫學大學精神科教授
張葉森 台灣客社社長 家庭醫學科專科醫師
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