Protest Against Failure To Hold Individuals To Account On Chiang Kuo-ching (江國慶) Case
Taiwan is one of the increasingly smaller number of countries that has retained the death penalty and actively exercises it. Despite a moratorium from 2003 to 2008, one of the key acts of the Ma Administration was to reinstate the use of the death penalty despite several prominent cases of wrongful arrest and execution and consistent pressure from groups such as the Taiwan Alliance to End the Death Penalty. The most recent case of the execution of an innocent man concerns Chiang Kuo-ching (江國慶). For background read this report:
The case in question occurred 14 years ago. Military investigators had fixed their sights on Chiang, an Air Force conscript, as a suspect in the girl’s rape and murder. Before long, Chiang’s father, Chiang Chih-an (江支安), started protesting, saying that his son had been falsely accused.
The Judicial Reform Foundation offered assistance by actively appealing to the Control Yuan, but the defense ministry, under pressure to get the trial over with quickly, condemned Chiang Kuo-ching to death little more than a year after the crime occurred. He was executed by gunshot.
and this report in the Taipei Times in September 2011:
A military court yesterday acquitted Chiang Kuo-ching (江國慶), who was executed for the rape and murder of a girl 15 years ago, in a posthumous trial. Chiang was executed in 1997 after being convicted of sexually abusing and murdering a five-year-old girl. The Military Northern District Court yesterday morning handed down the ruling after the Military Supreme Court Prosecutors’ Office filed an extraordinary appeal with the Military Supreme Court in May last year to reopen the case. The Military Supreme Prosecutors’ Office’s legal action followed findings by the Control Yuan that Chiang had been tortured by military investigators. The Ministry of National Defense yesterday said it was the final verdict and it would help Chiang’s family apply for national compensation. The ministry said the court ruled that Chiang’s statements were made against his will and that the blood-soaked toilet paper and knife used as evidence against Chiang were re-examined by forensic experts, who concluded that they could not prove Chiang’s involvement in the murder.
Yesterday (Sunday 7th October) the Judicial Reform Foundation held a ‘white shirt’ protest against what it says has been a failure to complete the two steps necessary to achieve a modicum of justice for Chjiang’s family. Although the Ministry of Defence has cooperated with the Control Yuan investigation and national compensation has been paid to Chiang’s family (step 1), the people identified as being the most responsible for the dereliction of duty that led to Chiang’s execution, former Defense Minister Chen Chao-min (陳肇敏) or other relevant officials, have yet to be held to account or penalised in any way (step 2). This editorial provides some insight into the complex legal twists and turns this case has taken, and which have been very frustrating for Chiang’s family.
I attended the protest. Here below are some pics of the event. (Notes below each photo)
This board was used to organise participants into two characters which would then be photographed from the top of tall adjacent buildings. The characters (jiu ze) together roughly translate into ‘pursuing those accountable’. Participants were asked to turn up wearing a white top.
Signing up at the main desk. Over 200 people turned up to show solidarity with the mother of the Chiang Kuo-ching (江國慶), Wang Tsai-lien (王彩蓮).
Members of the media got set up early.
Many of the press were also wearing white tops …
… like this guy from TVBS. I’m amazed how many Taiwanese haven’t picked up on the way the ‘BS’ in TVBS is just a perfect description of the pan-blue TV station. Whenever I share this insight it always gets a laugh.
The space for the protest characters was laid out beforehand and marked very clearly. If Taiwanese know how to do something it is the highly effective protest on a tiny budget.
Organisers discuss some final preparations.
This is Lin Hsin-yi (林欣怡), Director of Taiwan Alliance to End the Death Penalty (TAEDP) and one of the main co-organisers of the protest.
Interviews began. (Note the white t-shirt and hat of the cameraman)
This guy came prepared with a statement and took care to pull down his hat for pictures.
A participant writes her position on the protest board …
Participants line up read for orders …
Amusingly, the guy with the mic kept having the trouble with the amplifier because the channel kept switching to pic up some random presentation being held in a nearby building. Oh radio waves you magic jesters.
The media got most busy when Wang Tsai-lien (王彩蓮) turned up holding an image of her late son.
A short speech was given outlining the key reasons for the protest ….
See the guy to the right with the blue trousers and black jacket on the phone and with his back to the camera? If ever there was a shifty presence at the protest it was him. Something just didn’t smell right about him. I suspect Government / Police / security but alas have no proof as I didn’t speak to him to find out ….
At the end, participants wrote goodwill messages of support on a card to give to Wang Tsai-lien (王彩蓮) and she handed out reminder postcards in return. The more emotional the interaction the more the members of the media rushed in the snap away on their cameras and get stock footage for the evening news.
The media press closer …
They were having a nice day of it I guess. The weather was good and it was a simple fairly quick assignment for them. I returned the favour by taking photos of the cameramen and photographers really close to their faces whilst shouting ‘click click click’ in their ears whenever they got too excited. I know, it was terribly immature of me but something about Taiwanese media and the way they operate rubs me up entirely the wrong way. Paparazzi will be paparazzi I guess ….
They loved this woman. She got very upset and spoke at some length providing them with at least 15.5 seconds of prime slot footage.
Check you settings and keep an eye on the subject at all times. This lady used a full on tripod to get her perfect shot but I have no idea if she was media or part of the protest.
We formed the characters as can be seen in this picture from UDN:
… and had to wait some time for all the shots to be taken from up on the building and then went our ways. Here is the United Daily News coverage including video.