Taiwan Political Prisoner Report, Jan. 15, 2013. Legislator Chen Tat-sun, also known as Mark Chen, has taken a leading role in speaking out in defense of Chen Shui-bian, the imprisoned former president of the Republic of China in-exile. Mark Chen says that Chen Shui-bian has been mistreated in prison.
“Chen Shui-bian has been in prison more than four years. In the first three-and-a-half years we asked the officials in the detention camp to give him a desk, or give him a table, of give him a bed,” said Legislator Chen. “ But nothing happened. When he tries to write something he has to lay flat on the floor. This has hurt Chen Shui-bian’s health. Sometimes he has stomach problems, too much acid in the stomach, and laying down is not good for your health.”
“Bit by bit, the information came out and people started to realize that [Chen’s] case is not an ordinary criminal case, this is a political case. Eventually some local prosecutors and judges were brave enough to write a letter to the newspaper pointing out their own different observations versus the official viewpoint. They even travelled to the United States to call to the attention of overseas Taiwanese who are very concerned about Chen Shui-bian’s health.”
Mark Chen discussed the importance of foreign visitors: “Ramsey Clark, the former Attorney General of the United States, came over, and many friends associated with international human rights groups, including myself, criticize Chen Shui-bian’s treatment by Ma Ying-jeou….Finally, all that pressure made it possible for Chen Shui-bian to have a bed and a table to get him more time to walk around. Chen’s health has been deteriorating. Before he went in he was a very healthy man; a good brain; his power to memorize, no one could exceed him. But then after more than three and-a-half years, particularly in the last three to six months his health condition changed. Before when he spoke he never stuttered. Now when he speaks, he stutters. And he is slow with mental reactions. He is a different person now. So that is a concern for many people.”
Legislator Chen stays in touch with Chen Shui-bian’s volunteer medical team: “The medical group, a group of medical doctors formed a team, trying to call to the attention of the government to challenge the fact that Chen Shui-bian is not seriously ill. The government has not allowed him to have a complete check-up in a hospital of his choice. Many people are afraid he might be dying in jail, maybe within three or four months. Under this kind of pressure, finally he was allowed to move out from his prison cell. Now he has been put into the Veterans General Hospital.”
“Although his language problem, the stuttering, has not been corrected, he has made progress on his day-night cycle problem because the medical group prescribed more sunshine, and housing where he can tell day or night. Because a person like him, being incarcerated in a room where you cannot tell day or night is because he is without sunlight, is going to worsen his health condition,” said Mark Chen.
Chen warned: “Over the last two months now he is receiving some mental treatment in that hospital. However, we read in the newspaper that the authorities are trying very hard to bring him back to the prison. If that happens I can guarantee Mr. will suffer a big blow and he will probably end up dying in that prison cell.”
Mark Chen said it is time for medical professionalism: “The doctors propose that what Chen needs the most is an environment which is completely different from the environment he had for the last three and-a-half years. He needs to have an environment where he can access family members, walk around and enjoy the sunshine maybe at least two hours per day. And be given an environment where he can tell if it is day or night. That is the prescription given by the medical doctors. The doctors have to stand up and execute their professional laws regardless of what happens from the political aspect.”
“I am very much afraid for President Chen Shui-bian’s health. We have been asking for medical parole in vain,” said Chen.
“We simply cannot say enough to thank those who have spoken out in behalf of President Chen. Chen’s mistreatment is going to trigger more people outside Taiwan to speak out and that is happening….At this moment we have to save his life. His health condition is at risk….If he is sent back to the Taipei Prison that would be the end of it.”
“President Chen needs long-term treatment,” said Mark Chen. “On the other hand, the government authority is trying now to say Chen Shui-bian is getting better so he should go back to the prison house. That might kill President Chen.”
“We have been trying to find out what conditions would qualify Chen Shui-bian for medical parole. You have to have some kind of criteria,” protested Chen.
“If this case had been tried in the United States, this case would have been declared a mistrial a long time ago. Because of the history, most people do not trust the judicial system here in Taiwan. It has become normal for people to say the Kuomintang own the courts.”
Mark Chen asked: “How can a government do this kind of thing to him? It is an injustice. It is hard to accept, to swallow this kind of unfairness. I am glad you have been able to come to Taiwan to see and hear with your own eyes and ears what has been happening here.”