Written by Bonny Ling. Last year, on Human Rights Day marking the adoption of the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights on 10 December by the UN General Assembly, Taiwan’s executive branch of the government (Executive Yuan 行政院) released the Taiwan National Action Plan on Business and Human Rights (NAP) (臺灣企業與人權國家行動計畫). The Action Plan was celebrated, with Premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) enthusiastically describing it as “aid[ing] Taiwan’s efforts to become integrated in international trade and supply chains.”
Category: Human rights
From Taiwan to Macau in 16 Years: A Domestic Worker’s Migration Biography
Narrated by Yosa Wariyanti, written by Isabelle Cheng. I have spent a total of 16 years abroad. When we return home, we have our savings, and we may open businesses. But businesses do not always go well. It is difficult for us to find jobs because we do not have good education or professional certificates. No one would hire us. Soon my daughter will go to university. I want to give her a good education. I need to work for at least another five years to pay for her tuition fees. So, I will just go on, and on, and on working abroad.
Making Narrative out of History: Green Island and the White Terror
Written by Shawna Yang Ryan. Green Island, part of the archipelago of Taiwan, lies roughly 33 kilometres off Taiwan’s east coast. During Taiwan’s martial law period, this was a notorious prison for political prisoners. In my novel, Green Island, the narrator’s father is imprisoned by the KMT for advocating democracy during the transition to KMT rule. Still, the title also functions as a metaphor for Taiwan itself during the martial law era.
The Public Nature of Civil Disobedience: Lessons from the Sunflower and Umbrella Movement
Written by Leon N. Kunz. In March 2014, participants in the Sunflower Movement peacefully occupied the main chamber of Taiwan’s parliament to block the ratification of a controversial trade agreement with the PRC that they viewed as a threat to Taiwanese democracy. In September of the same year, protesters involved in Hong Kong’s Umbrella Movement created street occupations to push for genuine democratic reform. In both cases, participants not merely occupied public space but claimed to engage in civil disobedience. According to the often-cited definition by liberal theorist John Rawls, civil disobedience is “a public, nonviolent, conscientious yet political act contrary to law usually done to bring about a change in the law or policies of the government.” To what extent did the occupations in Taiwan and Hong Kong conform to the dominant liberal civil disobedience script?
Not obedience but Dignity: A message from a former migrant worker
Written by Iweng Karsiwen and Ratih Kabinawa. Edited by Isabelle Cheng. A former domestic worker in Hong Kong for over ten years, Iweng Karsiwen is currently the Chair of Families of Indonesian Migrant Workers (Kabar Bumi). Initially she was recruited to work in Taiwan when the door opened for Indonesian women seeking domestic work there. However, instead of going to Taiwan, Iweng found herself arriving at a Hong Kong MTR station late one evening a year later. Knowing how the brokering industry functioned at home and abroad, after returning to Indonesia, Iweng was determined to help those who worked abroad and who faced similar challenges at various stage of their migration. She has particularly campaigned to outlaw salary reduction. This, as well as other practices mentioned by Iweng, are commonly adopted by brokers in Taiwan, Hong Kong, Malaysia and Singapore.
228 Seventy-Four Years On: The Fight for Transitional Justice
Written by Tabea Muehlbach. February 28, 2017, marked the 70th anniversary of the 228 Incident, a bloody crackdown on Taiwanese civilians by Nationalist troops in 1947. In 2017, Tsai Ing-wen’s spoke for the first time as a president at the central commemorations in the 228 Peace Park in Taipei. Such ceremonies had become a regular annual instalment not long after Lee Teng-hui apologises to the victims in 1995.
Victims without Perpetrators: Slovakia’s and Taiwan’s Lack of Retributive Justice
Written by Dominika Remžová. Despite the recent 228 Incident commemoration, along with the latest exonerations of White Terror political victims, the lack of retributive justice from criminal trials or other perpetrator-focused measures remains the case in Taiwan. In fact, the legality of the only perpetrator-focused act related to the KMT’s party assets has been continually contested by the party, despite the ruling of the Council of Grand Justices that upheld the constitutionality of the act’s provisions. A similar lack of retributive justice occurred in another country with a recent authoritarian past, Slovakia
Changing Circumstances Call for Taipei to Lift Its Effort in Promoting Democracy on China and beyond
Written by Chen Jie (陈杰). There are remaining concerns urging the government of democratised Taiwan to support democratic causes and human rights in China. In fact, for the Tsai Ing-wen administration, these issues have strengthened. Despite their disdain for the one China project, politicians of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) share the sentiment that Taiwan’s own democratisation inspires China. This is echoed internationally. The former US Vice President Mike Pence spoke positively about Taiwan’s “embrace of democracy” and the example it had set for “all the Chinese people.”
Challenges To Inclusive Education In Taiwan
Written by Elsa Sichrovsky. While government stipulations may appear to establish a strong structure of support and resources for students with a disability, the situation on the ground is often far from ideal. Most schools lack the trained staff and financial resources actually to implement IEPs for children with special needs. Many schoolteachers are already overloaded with large classroom sizes, stringent demands and requests from parents, and hosting extracurricular activities such as contests and art projects. With a child who has special needs added to the classroom comes the added stress of managing Individual Education Plans (IEPs) and attending IEP meetings with special education professionals and parents.
The Right of Independent Living and Its Challenges in Taiwan
Written by Kuoyu Wang. The most important questions to be answered are the following. Is independent living actually suitable for Taiwan? Moreover, does independent living mean that the state rather than the family should bear the burden of providing care? If independent living is a right of people with disabilities, should it be satisfied through a generally designed service system or a totally customised system with an individual framework? Should there be a limit to the rights fully provided by the state?
How Well Does Taiwan Support People With Disabilities?
Written by Heng-Hao Chang. After the transition to democracy in the 1990s, all aspects of Taiwanese society changed very quickly, as did the approach to disability rights. The accessibility of public transportation certainly allowed more disabled people to participate in society. The ongoing long-term care policy also covered people with disabilities who needed long-term care. The ratification of the CRPD and international review gave civil society, Disabled People’s Organisations (DPOs), and the government a chance to enter into dialogue and collectively evaluate current policies and practices, including social and cultural challenges.
Prosecution of a Fraudulent Labour Agency in Taichung: An Insight on the Exploitation of Migrant Workers in Taiwan
Written by Bonny Ling. On 28 January 2021, public prosecutors in Taichung indicted four individuals on charges of human trafficking, violations of the Employment Services Act and forgery of documents for their role in exploiting Vietnamese migrant workers in Taiwan. The four involved worked at the Hong Yu Employment Service Agency Company (弘宇人力仲介公司) in Taichung to recruit migrant workers from Vietnam. Established in 2017, Hong Yu placed 126 Vietnamese migrant workers in the construction sector around Taiwan from July 2018 to August 2020.