Taiwan presidential hopefuls urged to attend Tiananmen commemorative event

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Human rights groups have invited presidential candidates to a Tiananmen massacre commemorative event

Human rights groups have invited presidential candidates to a Tiananmen massacre commemorative event (By Central News Agency)

Taipei (CNA) - Several human rights groups called on presidential candidate hopefuls and political heavyweights Friday to attend an event next week to commemorate the 30th anniversary of China's Tiananmen Square Incident, saying it was critical to the efforts to safeguard Taiwan's democracy.

"We would like to use the commemorative event to examine whether Taiwan's political parties and politicians have embraced the founding spirit of the Republic of China, Taiwan," said Tseng Chien-yuan (曾建元), chairman of the board of directors at the New School For Democracy.

While Taiwan's two major parties often do not see eye to eye on cross-strait policy on economic and trade matters, they should not be divided on an issue like the Tiananmen Square Incident, which has to do with universal values and the founding spirit of the nation, Tseng said at a press conference at National Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall in Taipei.

With China employing its so-called sharp power to close in on Taiwan, using blandishments and threats, Taiwan's future leaders should endeavor to safeguard the nation's democracy and use its democratization experience to help facilitate a similar process in China, Tseng said.

He said the organizers of the Tiananmen Square Incident 30th anniversary event have sent out invitations to the 2020 presidential hopefuls and other political heavyweights.

"We are still awaiting an answer," Tseng said, naming some of the invitees as President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文), former Premier William Lai (賴清德), Hon Hai Precision Industry Co. Chairman Terry Gou (郭台銘), Kaohsiung Mayor Han Kuo-yu (韓國瑜), former New Taipei City Mayor Eric Chu (朱立倫), Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je (柯文哲), and former President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九).

"We have also invited them to sign a statement denouncing the military crackdown by the People's Republic of China (PRC) on the 1989 student movement in Beijing; demanding the truth about Tiananmen Square Incident, compensation for the victims' families and punishment of the responsible parties; and pledging concrete action to promote democratic reform in the PRC," Tseng said.

The commemorative event is scheduled to be held June 4, from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m., at Freedom Square in front of CKS Memorial Hall.
The event will focus mainly on seeking accountability for the Tiananmen Square Incident, supporting democracy movements in China, Hong Kong and Macau, and protecting Taiwan's democracy, the organizers said.

Short addresses will be given by several individuals who witnessed the bloody Tiananmen Square crackdown, including Chinese scholar Wu Renhua (吳仁華), and also by participants in the 2014 Umbrella Movement in Hong Kong such as Lam Wing Kee (林榮基), the former owner of Causeway Bay Books, according to the organizers.

The Tiananmen Square Incident on June 4, 1989, also known as the June Fourth Incident, was a bloody crackdown by Chinese security forces on pro-democracy student protesters in Beijing, which is believed to have resulted in thousands of deaths.

Shih Yi-hsiang (施逸翔), deputy secretary general of the Taiwan Association for Human Rights, one of the organizers of the commemorative event, said China's repression of human rights requires the attention of governments and people around the world.

"Taiwan is currently facing threats from authoritarian China," he said. "The only chance Taiwan has of withstanding those threats is if its government adamantly adheres to the values of freedom, democracy and human rights." (By Stacy Hsu)