FAPA Mourns Death Of Senator Edward Kennedy, Lauding His Contributions To Taiwan’s Democracy And Human Rights

In a letter to Rep. Patrick Kennedy (D-RI), the son of Senator Edward Kennedy, FAPA president Bob Yang sent condolences to the whole Kennedy family upon the passing of Senator Ted Kennedy (D-MA). While the late Senator left imprints on major pieces of legislation advancing social justice, civil rights and healthcare for generations of Americans, FAPA best remembers the late Senator’s instrumental efforts and leadership in championing Taiwan’s democracy and human rights in the U.S. Congress in the 80s.

Together with the late Senator Claiborne Pell (D-RI), former Congressmen Jim Leach (R-IA) and Steve Solarz (D-NY), Senator Kennedy met with FAPA members and listened to their concerns about the lack of human rights in Taiwan and the then authoritarian government’s suppression of freedoms. These four Members of Congress introduced resolutions, wrote letters and issued statements, laying the foundation for democratic reforms in Taiwan and the abolishment of martial law. They were endearingly dubbed “The Gang of Four” for their work on behalf of Taiwan’s human rights.

At a press conference on May 20, 1982 on the occasion of 33 years of martial law in Taiwan, the late Senator stated: “…it is clear that too many citizens are jailed in Taiwan for expressing their political views and defending their human rights. I therefore call on the leadership of Taiwan to take immediate action to release political and religious prisoners and to improve the human rights situation on the island.”

FAPA President Bob Yang says: “Ted Kennedy was not just the ‘Last Lion in the Senate,’ to us, Taiwanese Americans, and to the people of Taiwan, he was unquestionably the ‘First Lion for Taiwan’s Democratization’ in the U.S. Congress.”

********

The Hon. Patrick Kennedy                                                    August 27, 2009
U.S. House of Representatives
Washington DC 20515

Dear Congressman Kennedy:

On behalf of the full membership of the Formosan Association for Public Affairs (FAPA), a world-wide non-profit organization that promotes freedom, human rights, democracy and self-determination for the people of Taiwan, I write to you today to express our condolences to you and the entire Kennedy family on the passing of your father.

In the Taiwanese American community and in Taiwan itself, he will be especially remembered because he stood up for human rights and democracy in Taiwan when it counted.

For instance, in the early and mid-1980s, your father played a crucial role in Taiwan’s transition to democracy. Working closely with Senator Claiborne Pell (D-RI) and Representatives Jim Leach (R-IA) and Stephen Solarz (D-NY), he initiated hearings and held press conferences to highlight Taiwan’s martial law – which had been in force since 1949 – and Taiwan’s lack of democracy. Together, they were affectionately referred to as the “Gang of Four” in support of democracy and human rights in Taiwan.

He also frequently called on the Kuomintang authorities to release the political and religious leaders who were imprisoned after the Kaohsiung Incident of December 1979, including reverend Kao Chun-ming of the Presbyterian Church, and then Provincial Assembly member Lin Yi-hsiung, whose mother and daughters were murdered when he was in prison.

At a press conference on May 20, 1982 on the occasion of 33 years of martial law in Taiwan, your father stated: “…it is clear that too many citizens are jailed in Taiwan for expressing their political views and defending their human rights.  I therefore call on the leadership of Taiwan to take immediate action to release political and religious prisoners and to improve the human rights situation on the island.”

The efforts by your father and his colleagues in the US Congress helped bring about the transition to democracy on the island and strengthened the democratic opposition, which coalesced and led to the formation of the Democratic Progressive Party in September 1986, and the end of martial law on July 14th 1987.  However, it wasn’t until 1992 that democratic elections were held for all seats in the Legislative Yuan, and not until 1996 that the Taiwanese were able to directly elect their own president.

The Taiwanese-American community and the people in Taiwan fondly remember your father as one who stood with them in one of the most difficult periods in the island’s history.

We will miss him.

Sincerely yours,

Bob Yang, President
Formosan Association for Public Affairs

 

FAPA悼念華德甘迺迪參議員,讚揚他對台灣民主與人權的貢獻

FAPA會長楊英育昨日致函眾議員派崔克甘迺迪(Patrick Kennedy, D-RI),表達對他父親華德甘迺迪參議員日前辭世的追思悼念。甘迺迪參議員對增進社會公義、民權與健保等美國國內議題影響深遠,但是最令FAPA懷念的則是他在八零年代於美國國會對推動台灣民主與人權所做的重大努力。

甘迺迪議員與已故的裴爾參議員(Claiborne Pell, D-RI)、前眾議員李奇(Jim Leach, R-IA)及索拉茲(Steve Solarz, D-NY)在八零年代初期即與FAPA會晤,傾聽FAPA對於當時台灣缺乏人權與國民黨政府踐踏自由的關切。這四位參眾議員在美國國會裡引進決議案,公開致函與發表聲明,為台灣民主改革及戒嚴法的解除舖路。他們為台灣人權所做的努力並贏得「四人幫」的暱稱。

甘迺迪議員在1982年5月20日,台灣實施戒嚴33週年紀念的一場記者會上表示:「很明顯的,許多台灣人民因表達他們的政治理念與捍衛他們的人權而禁錮入獄。我在這裡呼禦籲台灣政府立即採取行動,釋放政治與宗教領袖,並改善島內的人權狀況。」

FAPA會長楊英育表示:「甘迺迪議員不僅是參議院裡『最後的雄獅』,對眾多台美人及台灣人民來說,他無疑的是美國國會裡『推動台灣民主化』的首要雄獅。」
******

以下為FAPA致派崔克甘迺迪眾議員信函全文:

2009年8月27日

親愛的甘迺迪眾議員您好:

本人今天代表台灣人公共事務會(FAPA)全體會員,向您與甘迺迪家族就您父親日前辭世致上誠摯的哀悼。

您父親當年在關鍵時刻,挺身支持台灣人權和民主,最為台美人社團以及台灣人民所深深懷念。

您父親在八零年代初期與中期,於推動台灣民主化進程中扮演著極重要的角色。他與已故的裴爾參議員、前眾議員李奇及索拉茲召開聽證會、舉辦記者會,促使各界關注台灣自1949年起實施的戒嚴法,以及台灣尚未落實民主的狀況。他們對台灣民主與人權的支持並贏得「四人幫」的暱稱。

您父親並時常呼籲國民黨政權釋放因1979年高雄事件而入獄的政治與宗教領袖,包括長老教會的高俊明牧師,以及母親和女兒在他入獄時遭謀殺的林義雄等人。

在1982年5月20日,台灣實施戒嚴33週年紀念的一場記者會上,您父親表示:「很明顯的,許多台灣人民因表達他們的政治理念與捍衛他們的人權而禁錮入獄。我在這裡呼禦籲台灣政府立即採取行動,釋放政治與宗教領袖,並改善島內的人權狀況。」

因為您父親與其國會同僚的努力,協助台灣邁入民主並加強民主的反對黨,促使民主進步黨於1986年9月成立,台灣則於1987年7月14日正式解嚴。不過台灣一直到1992年才舉行立院直選,1996年舉行首次總統直選。

台美人社團以及台灣人民深深緬懷您的父親,因為他曾經在台灣最艱難的時刻與他們站在一起。

我們將懷念他。

FAPA總會會長楊英育敬上

(August 29, 2009) FAPA Mourns Death Of Senator Edward Kennedy, Lauding His Contributions To Taiwan’s Democracy And Human Rights / FAPA悼念華德甘迺迪參議員,讚揚他對台灣民主與人權的貢獻