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Heeding the Call─ Planting the Seedlings of Hope and Solidarity

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Heeding the Call─ Planting the Seedlings of Hope and Solidarity

In conjunction with Homeless Taiwan, International Movement ATD Fourth World and several other NGOs, the Human Rights Protection Committee of the Control Yuan co-initiated “The Poor People’s Taipei”. It comprises a series of events, which includes lectures, exhibitions, and concerts, aimed to bring the public’s attention to the daily struggle of people in poverty and their human rights through concrete actions.

In an effort to highlight the significance of protecting the human rights of those in poverty, which is also a core value of the Control Yuan, “The Poor People’s Taipei” culminated in a tree planting ceremony at Da’an Forest Park on October 15, 2017. The park was created on what used to be an army veterans’ village that eventually became home to many poverty-stricken families.

After the previous event of spending a night on the street, the participants, which included many poor people, NGO representatives and students, embarked on a procession the following morning before reaching the outdoor stage at Da’an Forest Park, unfazed by the heavy downpour.

Prior to the tree planting ceremony, Control Yuan Vice President and concurrently Convener of Human Rights Protection Committee Sun Ta-chuan read aloud the words by Father Joseph Wresinski, “Wherever men and women are condemned to live in extreme poverty, human rights are violated. To come together to ensure that these rights be respected is our solemn duty”. These words were said and engraved on a commemorative stone that was unveiled on October 17, 1987 at the Trocadéro Plaza in Paris. That day later became the inaugural World Day to Overcome Extreme Poverty. Since then, some 50 cities around the world have inaugurated a replica of the commemorative stone in their own lands, proving that eradicating poverty has become a universal endeavor. Vice President Sun also envisioned to inaugurate a replica in Taipei very soon, which would later spread to other cities of Taiwan, too. He called on the participants to continue defending the human rights and dignity of the poor people. By listening to and learning from their voices and experience, our society could be further transformed into a place that truly values human rights.

ROC Vice President Chen Chien-jen was a distinguished guest at the ceremony. He remarked that poverty used to be mistakenly attributed to one’s laziness or failure but now, people have begun to realize that poverty is often a consequence of structural oppression, institutional injustice and exploitation. When poverty is not eradicated, it is a deficit in human rights protection. As the Convener of the Presidential Office Human Rights Consultative Committee, he and Vice President Sun (who is also a member of the said committee) share the same responsibility to lead the government and the citizens to care for the poor people and help them with social integration. Vice President Chen further emphasized that no one is an outsider when facing poverty because everyone is integrated.

With the ceremony coming to a close, the volunteers of the ATD Fourth World read aloud and presented the written declaration of “The Poor Peoples’ Taipei,” which Vice President Sun received on behalf of the Control Yuan’s Human Rights Protection Committee. The event concluded with ROC Vice President Chen Chien-jen and his wife, Control Yuan Vice President and Convener of Human Rights Protection Committee Sun Ta-chuan, Taipei City Deputy Mayor Charles Lin and other representatives planting three tree seedlings that symbolize hope and solidarity. This came with the promise that the government shall persist in its endeavor to protect the poor, and to actively build a future where the city and the poor strive together.

The Control Yuan representatives were led by Vice President Sun, who was accompanied by his wife. Member Teresa J.C. Yin and Deputy Secretary-General Hsu Hai-chuan and many staff also attended this meaningful event to help spread “the seedling of hope and solidarity” to eradicate poverty.

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