From the Worldwide Faith News archives

Taiwan Christians Active in Overturning Death Penalty

From Taiwan Church News <>
Date Wed, 15 Jan 2003 11:21:05 +0800

Taiwan Church News 2655, January 19,2003
Reported by Lin Yi-ying & Li Yi-shin. Translated and rewritten by
David Alexander

   On January 13th Mr. Su Ching-ho and two others were released
from prison after 11 years, many of them spent on death row. Mr
Su commented, Truth is truth, I am innocent!	He added, There
is only one truth, I am a victim of injustice.  Their sentences
were overturned by Taiwans high court, which declared them
innocent of charges of murder after an incident the Taipei suburb
of Hsi-chi in March of 1991.  They had been on death row since
   A host of human rights, political and Christian groups were
instrumental in agitating for appeals and reviews of the case for
years.	Professor Yeh Chi-hsiung, formerly of Taiwan Theological
College, now the General editor of the Taiwan Church News, and
Elder Lin Yung-song, an elder in Taipeis Chi-nan Presbyterian
Church, were active in the cause.
   Mister Lin said, For Taiwans legal system to demonstrate the
capability of recognizing and correcting past errors is an
important milestone of progress. When this case is contrasted to
an earlier one where it took action by President Chen Shui-bian
to overturn a sentence, the progress in justice is clear. To have
the court bravely face its errors and declare the innocent clean
is a big change.
   Elder Lin believes that no countrys judicial system is
perfect, and that injustices happen everywhere. But the ability
to review decisions and admit error, not defending face or
position is important. That makes this case an significant
bellweather of change.
   Chi-nan Presbyterian Church in Taipei, surrounded by central
government facilities, was the site for many watchnight vigils
during the years when appeals and challenges to the convictions
were being heard at nearby courthouses.  The Rev. William J. K.
Lo, current General Secretary of the Presbyterian Church in
Taiwan (PCT) was an occasional participant, as were other
Presbyterian Christians.  Elder Lin says, The church is
commissioned to suffer with the suffering, as Jesus did. We
joined the families of the three falsely convicted men in their
suffering.  In an environment where these kinds of convictions
happen, it is not easy to stand up to power and see something
overturned.  The church must stand on the side of the suffering,
speaking out for them.
   The protest against injustice in America began in the
churches! Mr. Lin points out that, since the death penalty is
still often pronounced and carried out in America, church groups
regularly stand with the families of persons wrongly convicted or
sentenced, offering support.  He asks whether Taiwans churches,
which stood up for prisoners of conscience in the past, might not
stand up today for justice and equality for those currently
falsely imprisoned.
   The results of the protest and appeals in this case are a
demonstration of the potential for cooperation between church and
secular organizations when there is a mutual goal.  The churchs
faith and testimony are clearly on display in the public arena in
such cases.

For More Information: Chi-nan Presbyterian Church

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