I recently had the privilege to visit with Chou Ching-yu. . . .

A psychiatric social worker by profession, Chou Ching-yu is the wife of Yao Chia-wen, a distinguished human rights lawyer who is serving the seventh year of a 12-year prison sentence handed down by the authorities in Taiwan in the wake of the 1979 human rights day rally in Kaohsiung.

It is an embarrassment to our age that any government anywhere finds the advocacy of human rights and democracy a challenge to its legitimacy. Although Taiwan properly prides itself on its strong anticommunist stance and its alliance with the free world, the government's commitment to democratic values and principles is unimpressive. The continued incarceration of democratic opppositionists like Mr. Yao is an embarrassment to friends of Taiwan and a stumbling block to internal reconciliation. The much appreciated release of Lin Yi-hsiung and Rev. Kao Chun-ming make it difficult to understand why the authorities in Taiwan have refused thus far to commute Mr. Yao's sentence. . . .

His continued incarceration is disproportionately important because it is perceived by the American people as a test of our mutual commitment to freedom and democratic values. . . .

To the degree that a government finds it necessary or convenient to imprison individuals for defending democratic rights it cannot help but find its reputation tarnished and its friendship valued less highly.