The Ten Conditions of Love, documentary about exiled Uighur activist Rebiya Kadeer, screened at Da’an Park in Taipei tonight. It was part of an event organised by Luo Wen-jia’s Movement magazine (二次黨外雜志) and the Taiwan Friends of Tibet (台灣圖博之友會) that saw the documentary screened simultaneously in five Taiwanese cities. The screening follows a controversy which earlier saw the documentary withdrawn from the Kaohsiung Film Festival. It was later reinstated in the film festival and also screened in Kaohsiung last week.
Former Premier Frank Hsieh (謝長廷) attended the screening and is seen in the above photo with Luo Wen-jia (羅文嘉). The outdoor theatre area had a packed crowd. And although some prominent members of the DPP were present the event was not like an election campaign rally. It was an occasion for everyone, regardless of which political party they might support, to come together and show that they valued the freedom to be able to watch this film.
Before the main film the Tibetan documentary Leaving Fear Behind was shown. The documentary by Dhondup Wangchen collects the voices of the Tibetan people in the lead up to the 2008 Beijing Olympics. Dhondup was arrested just after completing the film in March 2008 and is still being held in detention.You can watch the film on its website and also find out more information about Dhondup’s case.
The Ten Conditions of Love tells the life story of Rebiya Kadeer in an engaging manner. She comes across as someone who is principled and passionate. She has made enormous personal sacrifices for the Uighur freedom struggle and her four children who remain in China are now being persecuted.
While the freedom to screen films in Taiwan may have been safeguarded, the government’s rejection of Rebiya Kadeer’s visa application to visit Taiwan shows that freedom of speech still faces threats. Anyone that has seen the documentary about Rebiya would clearly see that allegations she has connections to terrorist organisations are totally spurious. Rebiya was granted asylum by the United States and has visited Australia, Japan and Europe. If none of these countries have seen reason to prevent her visiting why has Taiwan treated her differently?
The government’s decision sets a dangerous precedent and perhaps marks the beginning of a new blacklist, a blacklist dictated by Beijing. AFP reports that Beijing has directly rewarded Taiwan for rejecting Rebiya’s visa by planning to sign a financial agreement later this month. (Update: The Far-Eastern Sweet Potato comments on and questions the accuracy of the AFP report).
As thousands of people in Taiwan have now had the chance to see The Ten Conditions of Love they clearly know the government’s rejection of Rebiya’s visa application is unreasonable and unjustified. Taiwanese must use their freedom of speech to defend freedom of speech. They must speak out and insist that the government review its decision to reject Rebiya’s visa and allow her to visit Taiwan.