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Beijing condemns Taiwan sea murder
( 2003-08-28 07:01) (China Daily)

Beijing Wednesday strongly condemned the "barbarous'' killing of six mainland women smuggled to Taiwan and it urged the island's authorities to step up their efforts to crack down on cross-Straits human trafficking.

Two Chinese mainland stowaways weep after being arrested by the Taiwan Coast Guard at Taichung harbour August 26, 2003. At least six illegal mainland immigrants drowned at sea off Taiwan after human smugglers threw them and 15 others overboard to lighten their load so they could speed away from authorities. [HK Edition]
The Beijing authorities also accused Taiwan leader Chen Shui-bian of making "absurd remarks'' to distort the facts and defend the crime.

An official with the semi-official Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Straits, who refused to give his name, said the mainland is deeply concerned over the drowning of the women, who were thrown into the sea by local human traffickers early on Tuesday.

Such a "brutal and inhumane'' criminal act should be strongly condemned, he said.

At the approach of a patrol boat, 26 mainland women were dumped overboard by people smugglers, known as "snakehead'' gangs, near Tunghsiao on the island's west coast.

Seventeen of them were later rescued and three are still missing, according to Xinhua New Agency.

Two of the survivors were seriously hurt and taken to hospital.

Taiwan police said they arrested four of the alleged people smugglers -- all Taiwanese -- on the Penghu Islands late on Tuesday.

Huang Yun-huang, a Taiwan coastguard official, said one of the men had been detained briefly two weeks earlier for smuggling mainland women to Taiwan.

The women were believed to be seeking work in Taiwan. They reportedly said they had paid NT$200,000 (US$5,700) each for the boat ride to try to sneak in from East China's Fujian Province on the other side of the Straits.

The survivors said they left Fuzhou, capital city of Fujian, on Sunday by fishing boat. They said they went without food or water for three days and three nights because the smugglers did not give them any.

Xu Zhengzheng, one of the survivors, said: "One woman shouted 'Help, help, I can't swim.' But, after she went into the water, there was only silence.

Describing her ordeal on Taiwanese television, another survivor said: "They pulled my hair and dragged and kicked me out of the boat.''

The association official stressed that the Taiwan authorities are duty-bound to arrest the suspects and punish those found guilty and to curb cross-Straits human trafficking to safeguard the rights and interests of people on both sides of the Straits.

He said he hoped there would be greater co-operation between the mainland and Taiwan to strike hard against cross-Straits human trafficking in a bid to avoid the recurrence of such incidents.

The official urged the relevant departments on the island to continue their search for the missing people and to offer the survivors appropriate accommodation and medical treatment.

The mainland also expects the Taiwanese authorities to provide it with any information discovered by investigators to facilitate a joint crackdown against cross-Straits crimes, the official said.

The official also hit out at Taiwan leader Chen Shui-bian's "inhumane'' attitude.

Chen reportedly said the mainland women risked their lives to flee from the mainland solely because they were dissatisfied with their homeland and the mainland authorities.

"We feel very indignant about Chen's inhumane act in making these wanton remarks instead of condemning the human traffickers' cruel action,'' the official said.

Also yesterday, the Fujian provincial Taiwan Affairs Office and the Fujian Public Security and Border Defence Bureau urged the Taiwan authorities to take effective and prompt action in eliminating human trafficking to the island.

Fujian Province has been working to curb human trafficking to Taiwan over the past few years.

Wang Bin, deputy director of the provincial security bureau, said: "The province redoubled its efforts to crack down on human smuggling by punishing snakeheads and smugglers according to legislation and regulations and by educating local residents to stop them from being misled or cheated by Taiwan-based human trafficking gangs.''

Wei Zhongci, director of Fujian's Taiwan Affairs Office, said: "The province (Fujian) hopes that the relevant departments in Taiwan can report the identities of the six dead as soon as possible. The province will provide every possible support to the victims' families to deal with funeral arrangements in Taiwan if any of the dead is found to be a Fujian resident.''

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