Taiwan Journal piece on Chinese Assoc of Human Rights

I sent this letter to the editor of the Taiwan Journal, which is the government (GIO) weekly newspaper. Since it involves human rights (if that phase has any meaning in Taiwan anymore, which I doubt, it has been trivialized out of meaning) I will post it here.
Brian L. Kennedy

Dear Editor of Taiwan Journal ,
Usually I would not spend my time writing letters to the editor for free. But this article is so offensive that I will make an exception. I refer to this piece:

Group addresses human rights in Taiwan
Publish Date:05/23/2003
Story Type:National Affairs;
Byline:Cecilia Fanchiang

Now before commenting on the specifics of this article let me make some disclosers. First, many members of the Chinese Association for Human Rights are my personal friends and I have great respect for their human rights work over the past few years; i.e. since it become safe and chic to be for human rights. The five years I worked for Amnesty International in Taiwan (1994-1999) I had outstanding working relations with CAHR.

Now having said that, the facts in the article can best be described using the colloquial phrase “utter bullsh*t”. The article opens with this paragraph:

    The Chinese Association for Human Rights was established by a group of concerned citizens that wanted human-rights issues to be addressed in Taiwan. CAHR was formed during a global upsurge of human-right movements in the late 1970s. It was a major player in the evolution of human rights awareness and practice in Taiwan. After two decades, the association continues to play a vital role steering human-rights advocacy, consultation and education.

In fact, and anyone my age (45) or older ought to know this, CAHR was formed by the Kumingtang government, not

Did u get any response from the Taiwan Journal? Since it is funded and located in the GIO, Executive Yuan, I can’t imagine that they’d respond to you at all. I used to work at the GIO (different section though). The GIO is still in charge of propaganda for the gov, so I doubt that they’d want to publish the truth about such governmentally supported lies.


Yes, I used to share office space with the fine upstanding members of CAHR back in the late 80s and early 90s. Simply THE most skilled heads-on-the-desk all-day sleepers I’ve ever encountered. Kennedy also missed one vital point in his letter – CAHR’s other raison d’etre was so that the government for a long time was able to prevent any REAL human rights organizations from setting up in Taiwan, or at least to create large obstacles for anyone trying to collate HR data. “Why do you need to set up an office here? We already have a human rights organization all of our very own.”
The headaches AI caused when they became more active in Taiwan? Man, Kennedy, you were the big 'ol bogey man for a lot of people in those days. I swear, they got caught with their knickers down so many times, most of them simply stopped wearing any. Me & Dave Alexander didn’t help any, snickering at 'em behind their backs in the hallway.

“He is happiest who knows best how to pull the wool over his own eyes.”
– Dostoevsky in Crime and Punishment

Let me comment in order:
Greg, yes I got a reply. It was kind of a crack up, postal letters, in english, I have found really make an impact over at the GIO. I guess because you can accidently hit delete and be rid of an email but a postal letter because it has been logged in is harder to make go away. So what happens is the Cowardly Lion who is the nominal boss over at the Taiwan Journal, for sake of discussion we will call him Spineless Albert. So Spineless Albert the Editor passes it down to the reporter who did the piece, a girl named Cecilia, and said “respond to Attorney Kennedy”.

Her response was to go into the Sullen unCivil Servants mode and (at least as I see it in my mind’s eye) pouted and put forth this defense. Wellllll (imagine a Taiwanese girl whine) the head of CHAR told me so!

I had some spare time that morning so I decided to write back to Cecilia and Spineless Albert and pointed out that, as we all learned back in high school journalism class, a reporter has a duty to engage in a process known as checking your facts. I sarcastically added; (imagine me using a Mr. Rogers Neighborhood tone of voice to a brain damaged 3 year old) the reason for that Cecilia is that sometimes people would lie. For example if you interview most criminals they say they are innocent or (I chose this example on purpose) if you interview most Taiwanese civil servants they will say they work hard and usually it is

Mr Kennedy, your best posts ever. Funny and real.

Cheers and a free pint of bitter to ye!