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Write for Rights: The story of Chiou Ho-Shun

Taiwanese man wrongfully on death row is one of 12 the human rights abuse cases that Amnesty International wants to highlight – and get help with – before 2012 is out.

Chiou Ho-Shun
Chiou Ho-Shun
Image: Amnesty International

EACH CHRISTMAS, AMNESTY International runs a letter-writing marathon which aims to highlight cases of prisoners of conscience and at-risk people across the world.

Last year, more than 1.3 million letters, emails and faxes were sent from 75 different countries to plead with governments and regimes to release and protect these vulnerable people. Yesterday, today and tomorrow, TheJournal.ie is bringing you three of the 12 cases being highlighted this year as part of Write for Rights 2012.

Chiou Ho-shun has been on death row in Taiwan since 1989. He could be executed at any time.

He was arrested in 1988, at the age of 29, along with 11 other people in connection with two murders. All 12 say they were held incommunicado for the first four months of detention, and were tortured into confessing.

Chiou says he was blindfolded, tied up and forced to sit on ice, electrocuted and had pepper water poured into his mouth and nose. These interrogations lasted up to 10 hours at a time, with five or six people beating him. As a result, the hearing in his left ear has been severely impaired, he suffers from migraines and his body bears the scars of torture to this day.

Following an unfair trial, his 11 co-defendants were given prison sentences. Only Chiou Ho-shun received a death sentence. In 1994, two public prosecutors and 10 police officers handling the case were convicted of extracting confessions through torture.

No material evidence linking Chiou Ho-shun or his co-defendants to the crimes has ever been produced. Witnesses confirm that he was elsewhere at the time of the crime.

Following an unsuccessful appeal in 2011, Chiou Ho-shun asked the court: “I haven’t killed anyone. Why don’t judges have the courage to find me not guilty?

You can find out how to help Chiou here or log on to amnesty.ie/shinealight for details of the other 11 cases.

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