Military committed to human rights protection: defense minister

Taipei, Aug. 28 (CNA) Defense Minister Yen Ming on Wednesday reiterated the Ministry of National Defense's commitment to a high standard of human rights in the military, nearly two months after the death of a conscript shook public confidence in the military. Briefing the press at a dinner, Yen, who took up his post just this month, said that the July 4 death of Army Corporal Hung Chung-chiu has drawn tremendous concern over conditions in the military, and he promised that his ministry would do its best to meet public expectations. The 24-year-old Hung died due to multiple organ failure while being held in a detention cell for breaking rules regarding the use of camera phones on base. His superiors have been charged with subjecting him to excessive punishments which led to his ultimately fatal heatstroke. "The ministry will seize this as a chance for reform, respond positively to public expectation for improving the protection of human rights, and win back the people's trust," Yen told reporters. The military has proposed 13 reform measures that will focus on ensuring human rights, providing servicemen with a channel for complaints and reporting abuses, and reviewing disciplinary confinement regulations, according to the defense ministry. Yen also took the opportunity to reject reports of "infighting" within the military, saying that rumors of a rift between him and Army Commander Gen. Lee Hsiang-chou "are entirely untrue." The minister praised Lee's contributions and said that he hopes Lee, who had expressed his wish to retire, would remain in his post. Yen, formerly chief of the general staff, took over the defense ministry's top job early this month after it was vacated by Andrew Yang, who resigned after just six days in office over allegations of plagiarism in a book he had edited. Yang succeeded Kao Hua-chu, who stepped down after the death of Hung. (By Elaine Hou)