On December 10, Human Rights Day, President Tsai Ing-wen addressed the 2022 Asia Democracy and Human Rights Award ceremony via video at the invitation of the Taiwan Foundation for Democracy. President Tsai commended this year's award winner, the US-registered non-governmental organization Fortify Rights, for their persistent efforts to raise awareness in the international community of the conditions faced by the Rohingya people. Although Taiwan's democracy has received global recognition and praise, the president said that Taiwan still strives to improve human rights protections and strengthen democratic resilience. She also called on countries, civic groups, and international civil society to come together to defend our universal values.
A transcript of President Tsai's remarks follows:
I would like to begin by expressing my sincere congratulations to Fortify Rights on receiving this year's Asia Democracy and Human Rights Award, conferred by the Taiwan Foundation for Democracy.
As a US-registered non-governmental organization, Fortify Rights has extended its roots in Southeast Asia since its establishment and is dedicating long-term efforts to investigating military oppression and human rights violations against the Rohingya people in Myanmar.
Their honorable truth-seeking actions are evidence that human rights protection is truly a value that transcends borders.
More importantly, the persistent efforts of Fortify Rights have raised much-needed awareness of the conditions of the Rohingya people in the international community. They have also garnered support and encouraged action from all parts of the world to remedy this atrocity.
Fortify Rights' efforts also demonstrate that defending human rights is a principled task that resonates with and inspires like-minded international actors to work together to achieve life-changing reforms.
We in Taiwan have also been deeply inspired by the work of Fortify Rights. We can all learn from the organization's persistence and dedication. I want to take this opportunity to express my sincere respect to all who have participated in and contributed to the work of Fortify Rights.
The conferral of the Asia Democracy and Human Rights Award on International Human Rights Day further highlights the contributions Fortify Rights has made around the world. We hope that the advocacy network established through Fortify Rights can not only help the Rohingya people, but also provide more immediate assistance to those in similar situations around the world.
Looking back on Taiwan's history, the people of Taiwan had also been deprived of social and political rights. Activists from Taiwan went through their own hardships in pursuing democracy. But they never wavered. And their determination carried Taiwan through its democratization and made Taiwan into the vibrant democracy it is today.
Even though Taiwan's democracy has been recognized and even lauded by the world, Taiwan still strives to improve human rights protections and to make its democracy more resilient. The Asia Democracy and Human Rights Award is an additional demonstration of Taiwan's efforts to bring together and support democratic partners and human rights defenders.
Such efforts have been particularly important in recent years, as authoritarian regimes have become increasingly aggressive in pursuing their expansionist goals and in threatening human rights. Countries, civic groups, and international civil society should come together to counter such action and to defend universal values.
With Fortify Rights serving as an inspiration, I am looking forward to seeing the formation of more networks like it, and for the improvement of human rights around the world.
To conclude, I would like to congratulate Fortify Rights again on receiving this award. I also want to express gratitude to our civil society partners for working with Taiwan, and for your exceptional contributions to human rights in our region. Let us continue to work together toward a better future.
To support democratic development and raise human rights standards in Asia, the Taiwan Foundation for Democracy in 2006 established the Asia Democracy and Human Rights Award, which is given to individuals and groups on the basis of their outstanding contributions to peacefully advancing democracy and advocating for human rights. This year's award ceremony was held online.