Chen condemns Myanmar over crackdown on protests


TAIPEI, Taiwan — President Chen Shui-bian condemned Myanmar’s ruling junta Friday for its brutal crackdown on peaceful civilian protesters.

Addressing a ceremony to mark the 21st founding anniversary of the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), Chen said he felt deep regret seeing television footage showing Myanmarese troops opening fire on unarmed Buddhist monks and civilian demonstrators in the past few days.

“On behalf of the government of the Republic of China, I strongly condemn the Myanmar ruling junta’s violent actions that violate democratic principles, human rights and humanity,” Chen said.

He also called for all democratic countries around the world to step in to prevent further bloodshed and help bring peace, freedom and democracy to Myanmar as soon as possible.

Noting that using any form of brute force, violence or non-peaceful means for an internal crackdown or external intimidation is intolerable in a civilized society, Chen said the international community should also face the despotic nature of the Chinese government as well as its poor human rights record and its diplomatic suppression, saber-rattling and missile threats against Taiwan.

Turning to Taiwan’s democratic development, Chen said the inauguration of the DPP 21 years ago marked a critical turning point in Taiwan’s history and political development.

“At that time, Taiwan was still under martial law. All the DPP founding members risked arrest and imprisonment. The birth of the DPP marked a direct challenge to the most serious taboo of the then-Kuomintang and its martial law,” recalled Chen, himself a DPP founding member.

Ten days after the DPP’s inauguration, Chen went on, then-President Chiang Ching kuo announced that the 38-year-old martial law would be lifted, paving the way for a series of political reforms that eventually led to Taiwan’s transformation into a democracy.

Over the past 21 years, Chen said, the DPP has stood with the people of Taiwan, joining with them in sorting out the country’s development direction and learning how to steer the country’s destiny.

“While we have not yet fully lived up to public expectations, the DPP has never deviated from its fundamental policy line and core values, including consolidating Taiwan’s young democracy, realizing social justice and fortifying Taiwan-centric consciousness, “ Chen said.

With these goals in mind, Chen said, the DPP will be able to win local people’s continued trust and mandate to lead Taiwan to become a “normal, complete and great” democratic country.

On Taiwan’s bid to join the United Nations, Chen said that although Taiwan has failed since 1993 to have its U.N. membership application included on the agenda of the annual General Assembly session, the country will not be daunted by the latest setback and will continue its quest for a seat in the world body.

This year marks the first time the country has applied for U.N. membership under the name Taiwan. The issue was unprecedented, and discussed at the General Assembly session, with 140 member countries registering to voice their opinions on the issue during a four-hour debate.

“Such extensive discussion could be seen as a breakthrough in our U.N. membership quest,” Chen said, adding that the injustice in excluding Taiwan from the world body has received more world attention as a result.

Chen said he appreciates all foreign leaders who have spoken up for Taiwan’s cause at the U.N. sessions and urged the international community not to cave in to China’s pressure and continue to deny Taiwan access to the United Nations and other world organizations.