For Immediate Release
Washington DC – March 22, 2012
Contact: (202) 547-3686
FAPA Urges U.S. Government To Call For Medical Parole For Former President Chen
On behalf of the Taiwanese-American community, the Formosan Association for Public Affairs (FAPA) sent a letter to U.S. President Barack Obama on March 20, 2012, expressing concerns about the deteriorating health and physical condition of former president Chen Shui-bian, who is currently serving 19 years of several concurrent prison sentences. The former head of state has been incarcerated for over 1200 days.
In the letter to President Obama, FAPA stated that Chen had been sentenced on corruption charges that are widely believed by international observers and legal scholars to be politically motivated.
The letter describes the recent hospitalization of the former President, during which Chen was diagnosed with acute coronary syndrome, significantly reduced blood flow and a prostate tumor. It was also discovered that for more than 14 months, he had been prescribed an anti-anxiety medication without his knowledge or consent.
Chen’s doctors attributed the cause of his degraded physical condition to an inactive lifestyle and long-term deprivation of sunlight inside the prison. Noting that “[U]nlike other inmates, who are able to work eight hours a day in prison factories, the former President is only permitted 30 minutes of outdoor exercise each day,” the letter calls these conditions ‘demeaning,’ and ‘a clear violation of the principles established in the United Nations Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners.'”
Invoking Section 2(c) of the Taiwan Relations Act which establishes “the preservation and enhancement of the human rights of all the people on Taiwan” as objectives of the United States, FAPA calls on the Obama administration to urge Taiwan’s government to grant Chen medical parole in order to receive necessary medical treatment.
FAPA President Dr. Mark Kao comments: “We decided to appeal to US President Obama, since we believe that the US highly values human rights. As citizens of the United States, we feel strongly about democracy in Taiwan, for which we fought so hard for so many years.”
He adds: “Such demeaning conditions as currently being endured by President Chen are unprecedented in the treatment of a former head of state of a democratic country. The fact that he is held in a damp, undersized cell of 50 sq ft, which he has to share with a cellmate is an obvious attempt by the Ma administration to humiliate the former President. The fact that he is not even allowed a bed, a chair or a desk, so he has to sit and write on the floor, is a violation of basic human rights.”
Dr. Kao concludes: “The treatment of a former head of state in this manner is not only demeaning to him as a person, but also undermines the quality of the democracy in our homeland. It is more reminiscent of the ways the old Chinese emperors dealt with their predecessors. This has no place in this modern day and age, and is certainly not in keeping with the high standards of human rights and democracy for which Taiwan should stand.”
Letter to President Obama
President Barack H. Obama March 20th , 2012
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington DC, 20500
Dear Mr. President:
As Americans of Taiwanese descent, who are concerned about the state of democracy and human rights in Taiwan, we write you to call your attention to disturbing reports about the deteriorating health and physical condition of former President Chen Shui-bian, who is in detention.
The former Head of State of Taiwan is currently serving 19 years on two concurrent sentences related to corruption charges that are widely believed by international observers and legal scholars to be politically motivated. He has been incarcerated for over three years now.
Our renewed concern about his case stems from the fact that on March 7, he was taken to Taoyuan General Hospital and diagnosed with a prostate tumor, an acute coronary syndrome and significantly reduced blood flow to the heart, the last of which is potentially fatal. It was also discovered that for the past 14 months, Chen had been prescribed an anti-anxiety medication without his knowledge or consent. He was returned to prison a few days later, after undergoing an urgent cardiac catheterization procedure.
The doctors at Taoyuan General Hospital attribute his poor health to long-term deprivation of sunlight, lack of exercise and an inactive life style inside the prison, where he is confined 24 hours a day to a damp, undersized cell measuring approximately 50 square feet. The cell has no bed, chair or desk, forcing the former President to sit and sleep on the floor.
Unlike other inmates, who are able to work eight hours a day in prison factories, the former President is only permitted 30 minutes of outdoor exercise each day. These conditions are demeaning and a clear violation of the principles established in the United Nations Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners.
Mr. President, we recall that Section 2(c) of the Taiwan Relations Act passed by Congress on April 10th 1979 states, “”The preservation and enhancement of the human rights of all the people on Taiwan are hereby reaffirmed as objectives of the United States.””
On behalf of our community we respectfully request that you strongly urge the government of Taiwan to grant former president Chen medical parole in order to receive adequate medical treatment in a timely manner.
Mark Kao Ph.D.
President, Formosan Association for Public Affairs
cc: Secretary of State Hillary R. Clinton