Hu­man rights ac­tivist Lynn Miles dies

The China Post - - LOCAL -

Lynn Miles ( ), a hu­man rights ac­tivist who made mas­sive con­tri­bu­tions to Tai­wan’s democ­racy, died of can­cer in Taipei Mon­day at the age of 72.

Tsai Ing-wen ( ), chair­woman of the op­po­si­tion Demo­cratic Pro­gres­sive Party and its 2016 pres­i­den­tial can­di­date, who is cur­rently on a 12-day visit to the United States, posted on her Face­book page that she was sad­dened by the news.

Tsai lauded Miles as a wit­ness of an era and said she could not for­get Miles’ words to her prior to her U.S. visit that “(she) must safe­guard Tai­wanese peo­ple and must not let them be harmed.” A photo of her and Miles on his sick bed on May 16 was also posted.

Tsai said that in the strict po­lit­i­cal sup­pres­sion of the 1970s, Miles was driven by his sense of jus­tice to help dis­si­dents con­vey news about Tai­wan over­seas.

She said that a lot of good friends like Miles helped “Tai­wan to go from the path of un­demo­cratic to demo­cratic.”

Miles, born in New Jer­sey in 1943, came to Tai­wan to learn Chi- nese in 1962. Be­tween 1965 and 1966, he read “For­mosa Be­trayed,” writ­ten by Ge­orge H. Kerr, a vice con­sul of the U.S. Con­sulate who wit­nessed the 1947 crack­down of an anti-gov­ern­ment up­ris­ing known as the 228 In­ci­dent and saw at first­hand the cor­rup­tion of the gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials at the time.

Made Ac­quain­tance of

Dis­si­dents

At around this time, Miles also made the ac­quain­tance of dis­si­dents such as schol­ars Peng Ming-min (

) and Li Ao ( ), which gave him an in­sight into the dark­ness of Tai­wanese pol­i­tics of the time.

In early 1970, he se­cretly helped Peng to flee to Swe­den. A year later, he tried to help Li and two of Peng’s stu­dents af­ter their ar­rest, but was de­ported from Tai­wan and put on a black­list for 25 years un­til 1996.

Start­ing in 1975, Miles be­gan a res­cue mission in the name of the In­ter­na­tional Com­mit­tee for the De­fense of Hu­man Rights in Tai­wan, and worked with Amnesty In­ter­na­tional and Amer­i­can pro­fes­sor James Sey­mour to pub­lish the per­se­cu­tion of Chen Chu ( , now Kaoh­si­ung mayor) and other po­lit­i­cal pris­on­ers, for­eign mis­sion­ar­ies and stu­dents.

Sup­ported Peng-Hsieh Ticket in

1996

In 1996, when he was in the United States, Miles ex­tended sup­port for the Peng Ming-min-Frank Hsieh ( ) ticket for the pres­i­den­tial elec­tion and staged a hunger strike to protest against China’s lob­bing of mis­siles into the Tai­wan Strait in the runup to that year’s pres­i­den­tial elec­tion in Tai­wan.

Due to his ef­forts, in­ter­na­tional hu­man rights groups and the U.S. Congress be­gan to no­tice and put pres­sure on the KMT ad­min­is­tra­tion.

In 2006, dur­ing the ad­min­is­tra­tion of Pres­i­dent Chen Shui-bian (

), the Min­istry of the In­te­rior gave Miles per­ma­nent res­i­dency for his “spe­cial con­tri­bu­tions to the na­tion.” He spent his later years in Lung­tan ( ), Taoyuan, and taught at Fu Jen Catholic Uni­ver­sity in New Taipei City.

He also took part in the stu­den­tled “Sun­flower Move­ment” protest that oc­cu­pied the Ex­ec­u­tive Yuan briefly in March 2014.

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