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September 24, 2017

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Protesters bombard President Ma with shoes at human rights event

By Adam Tyrsett Kuo--President Ma Ying-jeou was bombarded with shoes by protesters during a speech marking Human Rights Day in Taipei, yesterday.

After the president arrived at the Jinmei Human Rights Memorial and Cultural Park (景美人權文化園區), Tsai Ding-guei (蔡丁貴), convener of the Alliance of Referendum for Taiwan (公投護台灣聯盟), riled up protesters by calling for the release of former President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁).

Chen is currently serving a 19-year sentence for corruption.

According to local reports, protesters proceeded to throw their shoes, hats and bags at Ma while he was giving a speech. In response, security personnel stepped forward to restore order.

The president welcomed all of the attendees, but added that respect and tolerance are core components of human rights, democracy, freedom and the rule of law.

If the administration has not done enough, it will do its best to improve, the president promised.

"However, it is important that we uphold the principles of tolerance and respect, otherwise it would be impossible to enshrine the value of human rights in Taiwan," Ma said.

There have been records of human rights abuse in the Republic of China's history, the president said, adding that the government will continue to face these with humility.

Mistakes of the past may be forgiven, but the lessons that the nation has learned can never be forgotten, Ma said.

Minister Lauds Activists Despite Interruptions

According to local reports, Culture Minister Lung Ying-tai (龍應台) was also interrupted several times by protesters while giving her speech prior to the president.

"No matter how much we do or how hard we try, it will never be enough," Lung said in regard to the nation's victims of political persecution.

More than 170 elderly "White Terror" victims reportedly attended the event.

Lung thanked the victims for their attendance, and said that they have helped the nation move away from a dark past toward a brighter future.

"We can see how their hair has turned white, but we cannot see how their hearts have bled," she said.

While Lung was giving her speech, several protesters stood up and yelled, "Human rights do not exist in Taiwan!"

Despite being interrupted several times, Lung continued to laud political activists such as Chen Meng-he (陳孟和) for their contributions toward human rights in Taiwan.

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