FAPA Statement On The Transfer Of Former President Chen Shui-bian To A Prison Hospital In Taichung

The Formosan Association for Public Affairs (FAPA) – a Taiwanese-American grassroots organization based in Washington DC – today expressed dismay and its deepest concern about the transfer of former Taiwan President Chen Shui-bian  from the Veterans General Hospital (TVGH) in the North of Taipei to the Pei-de Prison Hospital in Taichung.

The way the transfer was implemented by the Taiwan Ministry of Justice flies in the face of norms and standards in a democratic country: it was done before dawn on April 19th, 2013, without any prior notification to the family or to the doctors treating Chen at the TVGH.  According to one of the doctors, Dr. Ko Wen-tze, the former President was not even given an opportunity to bring his medical prescriptions, and the prison authorities later had to return to the TVGH to pick up the prescriptions.

Additionally, according to press reports from Taiwan, the Pei-de Prison Hospital in Taichung is a poorly equipped prison clinic, and certainly does not have adequate psychiatric facilities needed for treatment of the former President.

FAPA strongly urges the Obama Administration and the US Congress to express their deepest concerns to President Ma Ying-jeou and urge him to release President Chen on medical parole.  This would be in keeping with the Taiwan Relations Act of 1979, which stipulates that “The preservation and enhancement of the human rights of all the people on Taiwan are hereby reaffirmed as objectives of the United States.” (Sec. 2.3).

In Taiwan some 17 out of 23 city and county councils have adopted resolutions in support of medical parole, while many members of US Congress have also spoken out on the issue.  Indeed, just today, US Congressman Robert Andrews (D-NJ) wrote a letter to Secretary of State Kerry (attached) saying that the United States “must clearly express [itself] in favor of a medical parole on humanitarian grounds as well.”

The argument by the Ministry of Justice in Taipei that the former President “doesn’t qualify” for medical parole is groundless and lays bare its strong political bias.  Taiwan’s Prison Act does contain clear provisions regarding medical parole, and legal specialists in Taiwan such as Taipei District Judge Hung Yin-hua have stated that former President Chen clearly qualifies under the law.

On Wednesday April 17th 2013, US Congressman Steve Chabot (R-OH), who serves as the Chairman of the Asia-Pacific Subcommittee in the House Foreign Affairs Committee, raised the issue of former President Chen’s incarceration in a hearing with Secretary of State Kerry, referring to the imprisonment as “criminalization of politics.”

Secretary Kerry responded that he would follow up on the issue.  FAPA urges Secretary Kerry to stand up for the principles of freedom and democracy, and make it clear to the Taiwan authorities that continued imprisonment of former President Chen is severely damaging to the international image of Taiwan as a free and democratic nation, and that release on medical parole is the only humanitarian and responsible solution.

Since early 2012, FAPA has called the attention of the US government to the deteriorating physical and mental condition of the former President on a number of occasions, including a March 20th 2012 letter to President Obama, and some 5,500 petitions to members of the US Congress in the Summer of 2012.

台灣人公共事務會針對前總統陳水扁遭轉送台中監獄一事聲明稿

總部設於美國華府的台灣人公共事務會(FAPA),今天針對前總統陳水扁從台北榮總醫院被轉送至台中監獄培德醫院一事,表達其憂心與不滿。

台灣法務部處理此次轉送程序的手法,並非民主國家該有的風範。此次轉送在4月19日的凌晨執行,而此事並未知會家屬或是負責治療陳前總統的榮總醫師。根據柯文哲醫師表示,陳前總統連其醫囑用藥都沒有攜帶,而是由獄方事後才回來拿藥。

據台灣媒體報導,台中監獄附設培德醫院設施匱乏,且並不具備治療陳前總統精神疾病的能力。

FAPA強烈呼籲歐巴馬政府及美國國會,應對馬英九總統表示關切,並敦促其准予陳前總統保外就醫。如此才符合1979年「台灣關係法」第二條第三款中所述:「玆此重申維護及促進所有臺灣人民的人權是美國的目標。」的精神。

目前台灣的23個縣市議會中已有17個通過議案,要求政府准予陳前總統保外就醫。在美國,亦有許多國會議員針對此事表示關切。紐澤西州民主黨眾議員安德魯斯(Robert Andrews)今天致函美國國務卿凱瑞,說道:「美國也必須表達自己支持台灣政府應基於人道因素,准予陳前總統保外就醫的立場」(詳附件)。

法務部對於陳前總統「不符保外就醫要件」的說法,完全建基於政治立場,而不據任何法理依據。台灣的監獄法中明列保外就醫要件,而諸如士林地方法院刑事庭長洪英花法官等法律專家,均曾表示陳前總統的現況符合保外就醫的條件。

美國眾議院外交事務委員會亞太事務小組委員會主席、俄亥俄州共和黨眾議員夏波(Steve Chabot),於週三一場聽證會中,對凱瑞國務卿提及陳前總統持續受到監禁一事,並表示此為「政治犯罪化」。

凱瑞國務卿當庭允諾持續關注此事。FAPA呼籲凱瑞國務卿應持守民主自由的原則,向台灣政府表示:持續監禁陳前總統會嚴重的損害台灣身為民主自由國家的的國際形象,並強調保外就醫是唯一合理、人道的解決方式。

早在2012年初,FAPA就曾多次呼籲美國政府注意陳前總統持續惡化的身心健康情形,包括一封於3月20日寫給歐巴馬總統的信函,並在同年暑假,將多達5,500封請願書交付國會議員辦公室。

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April 19, 2013

The Honorable John F. Kerry
Secretary of State
Department of State
2201 C Street NW
Washington, DC 20520

Dear Mr. Secretary:

Thank you for the letter from your Legislative Affairs Office dated March 14th 2013, which was in response to my letter dated March 1st 2013, concerning the prison conditions and medical care for former Taiwan President Chen Shui-bian.

Unfortunately, said letter displays a rather stand-offish wait-and-see attitude on behalf of the US institutions representing our country in our relations with the Taiwan authorities.

As is clear from the many reports regarding former President Chen’s health, his poor physical and mental condition have been caused by the deplorable prison conditions under which he was held for the past years until September 12, 2012, when he was transferred to his present location at the Taipei Veterans General Hospital.

That a former head of state is treated in such a manner is clearly in violation of the values of democracy and human rights, that we as a nation hold high.  I believe that as a human rights respecting nation, we, i.e. our government and the institutions that represent us abroad, need not only maintain our human rights standards here but also express our concern when we deem these standards violated or trampled upon elsewhere.

In the case of former President Chen there have been widespread calls for medical parole, including by the ruling party’s mayor of Taipei as well as by some 17 of the 23 city and county councils in Taiwan itself.  I therefore believe that we must clearly express ourselves in favor of a medical parole on humanitarian grounds as well.

I also understand that US legal experts such as Prof. Jerome Cohen of New York University, an expert on Taiwan law, considers the trial proceedings against the former President flawed at best.  I request that the AIT and the State Department take a closer look at the legal case against the former president, and determine whether the procedures followed by the prosecution were above board, and whether the trial and judgment can be considered fair, objective and politically neutral.

I look forward to hearing from you on this important matter. Thank you very much. If you have any questions, please contact Benjamin Culver of my legislative staff.

Sincerely,

Robert E. Andrews
Member of Congress

(April 19, 2013) FAPA Statement On The Transfer Of Former President Chen Shui-bian To A Prison Hospital In Taichung / 台灣人公共事務會針對前總統陳水扁遭轉送台中監獄一事聲明稿