To the central content area

About the Committee

President Tsai's address

President Tsai's address at the first meeting of the fourth HRCC

HRCC convener Vice President Chen Chien-jen and distinguished members: Good afternoon. Today marks the first meeting of the fourth HRCC. I would like to thank each committee member for being willing to work together toward human rights progress in Taiwan. Human rights may be a universal value, and this has become a common parlance, but they will always require local action to be truly achieved.

Taiwan has its own stories about its struggle for human rights. During Taiwan's period of authoritarian rule, the people regarded democracy and freedom as the most important of all human rights. On Human Rights Day (December 10) in 1979, many veterans of the dangwai (meaning "outside the ruling party") movement organized a human rights rally and protest march in Kaohsiung City, and this sparked the Kaohsiung Incident, which catalyzed the development of democracy in Taiwan. Mr. Cheng Nan-jung (鄭南榕) sacrificed his life in pursuit of freedom and was noted for the inscription that he kept on the wall of his office: "Fight for freedom of speech! Maintain human rights and dignity!" For Mr. Cheng, freedom was human rights.

Thanks to the struggles and sacrifices of an earlier generation, Taiwan has a mature democracy today, and freedom of speech is constitutionally protected. However, there is no "finish line" in enhancing human rights. Some countries are more advanced with respect to human rights, while others are still struggling. Human rights standards can only get higher as time goes by, so there are actually a lot of areas where we still need to strive for improvement.

Human rights are not limited in scope to democracy and freedom. The fourth HRCC includes members who specialize in environmental, housing, gender, labor, children and youth, and disability issues. This means that, across all domains, we must engage in comprehensive review of human rights issues, establish new standards, and provide suggestions to government agencies in order to implement actual policies.

Where human rights are concerned, we must continually set standards higher while getting more deeply involved in society. Concerning the recent furor over a group of students who dressed up as Nazis in a school parade, that was not the students' fault. The blame falls on us adults. This is because our human rights education has not gone beyond the superficial. It's because we've failed to face up to the seriousness of prejudice and bias in daily life. And we haven't educated students about past human rights abuses in their own country in such a way that they would learn the true lessons contained therein.

Every single one of us should reflect upon this incident and make sure that such a thing will not happen again. This incident reminds people from all walks of life of the importance of enhancing human rights education. Human rights topics should be incorporated into a variety of different subjects at school. We need to make students understand the pain that others have suffered, and respect the rights of others. They need to be willing to step forward when necessary to fight for what is right. Our education will not be truly successfully unless we can do this.

I invite officials from the Executive Yuan and other government agencies to submit special reports to the HRCC regarding the current state of human rights education in Taiwan's 12-year public education system. I also invite each HRCC committee member to provide the government with suggestions for improvements, and I look forward to working with you to set standards higher while getting more deeply involved in society, so that human rights in Taiwan will become the gold standard for other countries.

Code Ver.:F201708221923 & F201708221923.cs
Code Ver.:201801051632 & 201801051632.cs