Human rights

It seems to be an issue all over the world. Discrimination, false imprisonment, torture, lack of or distorted media coverage.

Travel makes me more aware of some of the more localised issues that we don’t hear about in uk. Should we care? Of course. Homosexuality has been legal in uk for 50 years now but there is social inequality among rich and poor. In Taiwan there has been democracy for 30 years yet still the aboriginal peoples are having their land stolen from them by big business.

In Ximen, Taipei, a few hundred metres from the little gay epicentre: several bars, fetish shops etc behind the Red House there is a silent demonstration of Falun Gong technique. In Taiwan gay marriage has now been legalised. In China, gay men still undertake electro shock treatment to “normalise” them. In Taiwan the Falun Gong exercise their beliefs overtly and with impunity. In China they would be heavy handed ly arrested and imprisoned. There are corroborated stories of organ harvesting too.

In Hong Kong the FG have a presence and are monitored by the police and most probably their Chinese masters. I meet Joyce a FG member near the Shrine of the eternal spring in Taroko Gorge. She is delighted I know of their persecution and I sign their petition, just as I signed it at Ximen.

The Peace Park in Taipei has a corner given over entirely to a commemoration of the 228 Incident and its fallout. The museum occupies the former broadcast station from which transmissions were made in 1947 calling for democratic reform. The brutal response of the govt led to the period of White Terror and 38 years of martial law. The museum is painstakingly detailed in the documentation of this most important period of history.

Although the Taiwanese pride themselves on their freedom of speech, peaceful and democratic society and recognition of human rights, there is still not universal equality. Close to the museum is a small cluster of tents. The gateway to the park is festooned with banners and draped with aboriginal geometric paintings, the ground nearby covered with hundred of individually hand painted pebbles, some with slogans. I am told by Iris, a volunteer manning the stall in the gateway, that the stones are both visually and linguistically symbolic, having connotations of pledge and permanence; each stone representing the aboriginal supporters of the cause that this occupation movement are campaigning for. This is namely to be heard and to have a say in the illegal annexation of aboriginal lands by the authorities. This is happening thoughout the island, including hualien and below. Joyce, the FG member from Taroko Gorge, is also an aborigine. Many where brightly coloured embroidered hats or tunics. At the Peace Park in a wheelchair sat the figurehead of the 192 movement: they are occupying the park for 192 days. A fierce looking proud woman with thick wavy hair. As Iris gave me the lowdown, this woman dressed a young friend in traditional indigo leggings and tunic, lacing them tight. They have an all inclusive message and one that we should also take on board when we consider the status and role of migrants and deliberate what kind of culture we want in the UK.

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