人權公約施行監督聯盟召集人黃嵩立認為APEC應該將聯合國會員國於2015年所通過的《2030年永續發展議程 Sustainable Development Agenda》，其中17項發展目標（sustainable development goals, SDG）納入議程。他說明，聯合國這份文件聲稱為人類現在和將來的和平與繁榮，提供了共同的藍圖，而SDG更是被視為經濟發展的人性面。在聯合國和多邊合作的場合，都不斷強調SDG的重要性，APEC也不例外。他進一步解釋，SDG因為強調婦女、兒童、貧窮、教育、營養等議題，而被認為是用以補充經濟發展的另類目標。
她解釋APEC的議程設定仍隨著歷史條件而調整，未來增列「人權對話」既必要且可行。歷年來，APEC除了注重經濟發展，還陸續設立了「永續發展小組（Sustainable Development Group）」、「健康小組（Health Group）」，還有「女性與經濟政策同盟（Policy Partnership on Women and Economy）」等與環境權、健康權、性別平權相關的對話機制。她質問，既然有這些涵蓋廣義人權的平台，那當然能設立一個「人權對話」，來討論當年度的重大人權議題。
Morris Chang, the representative of Taiwan to the APEC, is expected to attend the virtually held APEC Economic Leaders’ Meeting of 2020 in the Presidential Office Building. Civil society organizations including Economic Democracy Union, Taiwan Association for Human Rights, Covenants Watch, Judicial Reform Foundation, and Hong Kong Outlanders held a press conference outside the conference venue (the Presidential Office Building) on the 20th’s evening, calling for the inclusion of Asia-Pacific Court of Human Rights and other sustainable goals in the APEC post-2020 Vision, to establish regional human rights mechanisms for the process of Asia-Pacific economic and trade integration.
Recently, the ministerial representative of the APEC host country emphasized that the APEC post-2020 Vision will focus on the sustainability of regional development. Civil society organizations urged the emphasis of protection of safety and liberty of transnational personnels as the necessary protections for sustainable developments of the investment environment.
Civil society organizations presented a performance of “wedding” between “trade” and “human rights”, to convey the importance of human rights protection mechanisms for the sustainable development of regional economic and trade integration. APEC shall also set up the “Human Rights Dialogues” agenda to gradually lay the foundation for regional consensus on human rights protection.
Lee Penghsuan, Chair of Taiwan Hong Kong Outlanders criticized how China has repeatedly attempt to exchange the original concepts of human rights with only the right to development, using the “development” of the bigger population to cover up the human rights abuses on individuals. She called on every APEC representatives to be one step ahead and include “Human Rights Dialogues” in the agenda while working on establishing a consensus on the protection of Asia-Pacific human rights; meanwhile civil society organizations urge the Chinese government, which participates in APEC and claims to pursue common regional goals, to stop the infringement on human rights, and immediately release Li Ming-Che, the 12 Hong Kong youths, Tashi Wangchuk and others whom were detained by the undue process of China.
The Inclusion of Asia-Pacific Court of Human Rights in the Post-2020 Vision
Lai Chung-Chiang, Convener of Think-tank of Economic Democracy Union who is also a practicing lawyer stated, “In the past, civil society organizations has been focusing on advocating Taiwan to participate in international organizations especially the United Nations and World Health Organization, but neglecting APEC, to which Taiwan is a member already. In the future, civil society organizations will be enhancing our attention and participation on APEC, letting APEC become one of the most important world stages for Taiwan to speak and cooperate with the world.” The APEC Ministerial Meeting held on November 16th proposed the FTAAP, and that APEC’s “post-2020 vision” is trying to build an open, dynamic, strong and peace community for Asia-Pacific by 2040. Lai established that no matter how much more opened are the cargo trades, service trades and investments, it will ultimately come back to the cross-border mobilization of personnels, for that the Asia-Pacific region will need a complete mechanism to protect personal safety and personal freedom of the presonnels, and thus the open, strong Asia-Pacific community shall be complete. In recent years, from China’s persecution on human rights to the enaction of the Hong Kong national security law, it has put the safety of business activity around Asia-Pacific at stake; we should advocate on the Asia-Pacific Court of Human Rights, including it in the mechanism of FTAAP and also APEC’s post-2020 vision. “During the past month, Taiwanese civil organizations have held three press conferences to propose the idea of Asia-Pacific Court of Human Rights, called on China to release those whose human rights has been infracted. We will make sure our voices are heard, and keep pushing, along with help from our international friends, to enhance the protection on human rights. We are small citizens from a small country, but we are good citizens from a good country.” says Lai.
Urging President Xi to Release Li Ming-Che, the 12 Hong Kong youths and Tashi Wangchuk
“Even though the civil society organizations has called on Taiwanese representatives to present the list of persons under rescue to the Chinese representative, however there was still no mentioning of human rights issues during conference by Taiwanese representatives, which was a huge let-down.” says, Shih Yi-Hsiang, Secretary-General of Taiwan Association for Human Rights. He also called on the Taiwanese representative leader, Morris Chang to face the issue of regional human rights, and start advocating for the Asia-Pacific Court of Human Rights.
Shih also asked the Chinese President Xi Jinping to release international political dissidents. He especially brought attention to three of the urgent individuals that are jailed by the Chinese government, who were individually from Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Tibet. One of them being Li Ming-Che. Li is a Taiwanese NGO worker who pays close attention to the social development of China, however went missing ever since he entered China in 2017 via Zhuhai, then got sentenced for five years after months and was the first Taiwan to be imprisoned in the accusation of “inciting subversion of state power”. Also, the 12 Hongkongers who was originally on their way to Taiwan to look for refuge but was instead stopped and arrested on their way by the Chinese government, they are also still under detention. 10 of the 12 Hongkongers’ family has tried multiple times to let them meet with an eligible lawyer, but was refused by the government, they worry that those Hongkongers might be facing torture.
At last, Shih spoke about Tashi Wangchuk, an activist of Tibetan language and is now under detain. Shih says Tashi Wangchuk was only advocating his appeal through legal progress on the ground of the right to protect language and culture, which according to the Chinese Constitution, is his eligible right. Yet he was sentenced for five years under the accusation of “inciting secession of state power”. Shih states, “had APEC set up the Asia-Pacific Court of Human Rights, it will have the jurisdiction to trial on human rights violation cases such as the above mentioned.”
Tashi Tsering, Chair of Human Rights Network for Tibet and Taiwan, who is also a Tibetan in Taiwan pointed out that, a lot of Tibetans were persecuted, detained, sentenced, missing or killed for advocating the rights to learn Tibetan language, protecting the environment, practicing their religion belief, or even as simple as maintaining their own traditional way to live. Tashi Tsering says, “In Tibet, the fact that ‘born a Tibetan’ can alone be the reason for someone to become a political dissident.” He urges the Chinese government with not only the immediate release of Tashi Wangchuk, but also the thousands Tibetan political prisoners locked in the Chinese prisons.
Urging APEC to Include “Human Rights Dialogues”
Huang Song-Lih, Convener of Covenants Watch believes that APEC should be including United Nation’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals in the agenda. He states, “This resolution of the United Nations claims to be the blueprint that will bring peace and prosperity for the human being, the SDGs was even being seen as the humanity of economic development.” Whether at meeting held by the United Nations or multilateral meetings, the importance of the SDGs was emphasized repeatedly, including meetings of APEC. Huang then explained, “The SDGs emphasized on women, children, poor, education, nutrition related issues, and these issues are seen as the alternate goal for supplemental economic developments.”
Huang also stressed that APEC should be aware of the SDGs’ insufficient: comparing the SDGs to the two human rights covenants, the SDGs lays more attention on the economic and social rights, lacking the core of civil rights, which are basic human rights such as personal safety and the freedom to think, speak and gather, and the rights to political participation.
Huang urges APEC to value how each right is dependent on one another. It is only when APEC includes human rights into their agenda and lay attention on civil rights and political rights, can we make sure that each country maintains basic social justice. Huang pointed out, “China is now working their way in the Human Rights Council, trying to insert ‘development (especially economic development)’ as a criteria to resolutions after resolutions, trying to make the economic-emphasized but basic-human-rights-lacking Chinese model as type of human rights.” Therefore, Huang thinks that the only way to ensure people’s safety, freedom and comfort is for APEC to emphasize on all kinds of basic human rights, start arranging human rights protection mechanisms and heading for the establishment of Asia-Pacific Court of Human Rights.
Chiu Chin-Huei, Pro-bono lawyer at international taskforce of Judicial Reform Foundation says that, even if APEC states their goal to be creating prosperity for the Asia-Pacific region through the integration of economic and sustainable development, however, economy and trade should be the way for people’s abundance and happiness, thus they can never be discussed without involving discussion of the human rights. Chiu emphasized, “the sustainable development for the integration of economic and trade includes issues such as environmental damage caused during development, cross-border labor trafficking, labor exploitation and cross-border business personnels’ personal safety. The above should all be under the topic of ‘human rights’ and be discussed every year at APEC’s annual meetings.”
Chiu explained, APEC’s agenda has been adjusted over the year to fit the historic criteria, to list “Human Rights Dialogues” on the agenda is both necessary and doable. Through the past years, APEC not only emphasize on the development of economic, but also the establishment of Sustainable Development Group, Health Group and Policy Partnership on Women and Economy has helped with the dialogue on rights of environment, health and gender equality. Chiu stated, since we can establish platforms for these rights that are generalized human rights, then we can start a “human right dialogue” to talk about annual major human rights issues for sure.
Appeals of this Press Conference
1. Asia-Pacific Court of Human Rights in APEC’s Post-2020 Vision.
2. APEC Should Include Human Rights Dialogues.
3. China Release Li Ming-Che, 12 Hongkongners and Tashi Wangchuk.
｜Time: 2020 Nov. 20th (Fri.) 18:30
｜Location: Parking lot in front of the Presidential Office Building (intersection of Ketagalan blvd. and Chongqing S. Rd.)
Lai Chung-Chiang|Convener of Think-tank of Economic Democracy Union, practicing lawyer
Shih Yi-Hsiang | Secretary-General of Taiwan Association for Human Rights
Huang Song-Lih| Convener of Covenants Watch
Chiu Chin-Huei| Pro-bono lawyer at international cooperation taskforce of Judicial Reform Foundation, practicing lawyer
Tashi Tsering|Chair of Human Rights Network for Tibet and Taiwan, Tibetan diaspora in Taiwan
Li Peng-Hsuan | Chair of Hong Kong Outlanders
Ou Hsu-Shao （+886 975-173-559) ｜ Junior Researcher of Economic Democracy Union.