On the final day of a month-long march around the island the Taiwan Justice Rescue Force held a news conference at New Taipei City. The marchers wanted the immediate release of imprisoned Chen Shui-bian, the resignation of Ministry of Justice officials and prosecutors, and the enactment of a jury system.
Led by Aquia Tsay of the Alliance of Referendum for Taiwan and Rev. Cheng Kuo-chung of the Taiwan Justice Action Church and Rev. Lyim Hong-tiong of the Presbyterian Church in Taiwan, the group took to the streets to get out their message.
Aquia Tsay missed the news conference as he was in the hospital after being assaulted by police the night before. Two others who had been with Aquia displayed their injuries after being violently pulled from their car near the presidential office building in Taipei.
Rev. Cheng detailed the reasons for the Taiwan Justice Rescue Force march: “The Abian case is not a judicial case, but a political persecution through malicious and premeditated acts. Over the last four years, this political persecution went through stages of custody, sentencing, and imprisonment, marred by many illegal judicial procedures, including extended custody without charges, illegal judge replacement with someone willing to be a hitman for the government, and most absurd of all, the only guilty verdict being based on perjury by a coerced witness.”
Rev. Cheng continued, “With a close examination of the Abian case, one will find that is is covered by the fingerprints of “judicial dictatorship” which aims at suppressing political dissidents and has caused a serious setback to the democratic development of Taiwan society.”
The sidewalk news conference, held as the marchers prepared for their final day of marching, closed with an indictment of Chen Shui-bian’s successor. “Ma Ying-jeou has ignored all the calls for President Chen’s release and is determined to imprison President Chen until his death,” said Rev. Cheng.
The group then marched to Taipei where they encamped four days outside the presidential office building at Democracy Camp. Although police largely ignored the march around the island, hundreds of police clad in riot gear greeted the marchers when they arrived in Taipei. Ultimately three hundred would be taken into custody in a mass arrest when the Taiwan Justice Rescue Force decided to break the curfew imposed by authorities on the demonstrators.
Organizers of the march vowed to continue “nonviolent disobedient actions indefinitely to cultivate people’s will.”
A news release issued by the marchers declared, “We must overturn the judicial injustices and break the long-standing monopoly of judicial courts by the Kuomintang elites.”
Taiwan has not yet arrived full-force into the community of nations, trapped in a “strategic ambiguity” since the end of World War II. The islanders have been denied self-determination and are caught between two competing Chinese governments for control of the island under the so-called “one China” policy as a result of the unresolved status.
Under terms of the San Francisco Peace Treaty that ended World War II with Japan, the United States was made the “principle occupying power” over Taiwan. However, Cold War politics prevented a referendum for the Taiwanese to determine their national destiny and thus democracy has been slow to arrive in Taiwan.
One of the Kuomintang institutions that has been slowest to reform are the courts of the Republic of China in-exile. If the Taiwan Justice Rescue Force makes good on its promise to continue nonviolent actions indefinitely the group can be expected to be heard from again.