French envoy thanks nation for support after attacks

By Joseph Yeh, The China Post

TAIPEI, Taiwan — France’s top envoy to Taiwan yesterday thanked the Taiwan government and the people for their support following three days of terror on the streets of France last week during which 17 people were killed.

Speaking to local press yesterday, Olivier Richard, director of the French Office in Taipei, said he appreciated the condolences offered by Taiwanese government officials and Taiwan’s people in the wake of the series of tragedies. Right after the mass shooting at the satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo took place, Richard said he immediately received telephone call from Zhang Ming-zhong (�i�ʩ�), head of European Affairs under the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA). Foreign Minister David Lin also wrote him a letter of condolence. To pay tribute to the victims and stand up for freedom of expression, Richard said the French community in Taiwan held silent vigils in Taipei and Kaohsiung. The events were also joined by Taiwanese people. His office has set up a book of condolence at its office in Taipei so that people can write tributes to those killed in the terrorist attack. An online platform on its website is also available where visitors can leave messages of condolence for the victims’ families or other messages, he added. Commenting on the tragic incidents, the envoy said that the mass shooting in Paris and the subsequent hostage situation violated important values upheld by democracies around the world. First and foremost is respect for others, he said. ��You may not like what the magazine has published. But if you don’t like somebody you don’t kill that person,�� the director said. The attacks ran against freedom of expression and freedom of the press, he said.

The director stated, however, that the violent incident has come to an end and now everything is back to normal in France. ��No worries for people all over the world who want to visit France,�� he noted. Meanwhile, the envoy said his office in Taipei has been in touch with local police following the series of incidents in France. ��This is part of the standard procedure for us to get in touch with the police just to make sure nobody takes advantage of the incident,�� he said. He gave assurances that the French population in Taiwan is at no particular risk and Taiwan is a very secure place.