Press Conference and Book Launch
24 July 2008 (Thurs) 2:30 PM
Room 5117, Soochow Univ. Downtown Campus
No. 56 GuiYang Street Section 1, Taipei (near MRT XiMen Sta.)
貴陽街一段56號 東吳大學城中校區 5117會議室

Newly Published Book Gives Inside View of International Support Network for Human Rights in Taiwan during Martial Law Era

A Borrow Voice - cover
In the late 1960s, Li Ao 李敖, Peng Ming-min 彭明敏, and Roger Hsieh 謝聰敏 made the acquaintance of several foreign friends that had long-reaching international implications: Martin Ennals, Milo Thornberry 唐培禮, Robert Ricketts, Miyake Kiyoko 三宅清子 and Lynn Miles 梅心怡.

Visiting Taiwan twice in 1969-70, Amnesty International General-Secretary Ennals asked Li and Hsieh to help secret ROC political prisoner information to AI. Thornberry, Ricketts and Miles, all Americans, were deported from Taiwan in 1971 for acting to facilitate the plan, and for helping Peng to escape to Sweden the year before. A network was set up to run information to AI and other concerned groups abroad, with Miyake remaining in Taiwan as the main liaison with the political prisoners’ families. She escaped detection until 1976.

Presenting this and other details of the inner workings of an international information and rescue network spanning the globe is A Borrowed Voice: Taiwan Human Rights through International Networks. The 479-page compendium of personal accounts and documents was edited by two of the principals, Miles and Linda Gail Arrigo 艾琳達. Arrigo became involved in 1977, when she arrived to do field research for her thesis on women factory workers.

First-hand accounts by nearly forty participants tell what it was like to run great risks to expose how under martial law people were being routinely disappeared, tortured, executed, and driven insane from long years in prison. The story begins with the outwardly quiescent 1950s, when the martial law regime was able to pass itself off before the international community as free and democratic, and continues to 1980, when the Kaohsiung Incident forced the Taiwan Garrison Command and the Government Information Office to open its scourt proceedings to an indignant world audience.

Explaining the book’s title, the editors write this is “a story of borders challenged, crossed and erased. The boundaries to be broken were not limited to those defining the nation-state, but included the divisions of race, language, culture, and ideology…. [W]e lent our ease of passage and our voices to those who had neither. We provided a ‘borrowed voice’ that we could only hope would speak out against the tortured silence.” Transcending ideology meant joining together with pro-independence activists like Chen Chu 陳菊 and unificationists like Chen Ku-ying 陳鼓應.

Li, Hsieh, Shih Ming-teh 施明德 have been invited to the press conference, which will be moderated by Prof. Mab Huang 黃默, director of the Chang Fo-Chuan Center for the Study of Human Rights, Soochow University 東吳大學張佛泉人權研究中心主任.