Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Tribute to Hitler called off, group mum on reasons

More Asian Nazi fascination in Taiwan:

A rally planned for yesterday in Taichung by members of a student group to advocate Nazi ideology and pay tribute to Hitler was canceled without explanation.The Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Friday warned the group, called the National Socialism Association (NSA), not to hold the event to revere Adolf Hitler. The ministry said the move would tarnish Taiwan's image and offend countries invaded by Nazi Germany.

"Members of the NSA plan to meet on Saturday at the Taichung train station to pay homage to Adolf Hitler and advocate Nazism. The NSA and this event have been covered by major media outlets worldwide and have given the international community a skewed picture of Taiwan," the ministry said in a statement.

"Although Taiwan respects and enjoys freedom of speech, it is a responsible member of the global village that upholds universal values and respects human rights. Hitler and the Nazis invaded many countries during World War II and murdered 6 million Jews. This violence has been widely condemned by the international community," it added.

"In a world of increasingly frequent international exchanges, this ministry hopes that freedom of speech in Taiwan does not come at the expense of tarnishing our good name as a guardian of freedom and human rights," the statement said. "Making sure that this does not happen is our shared responsibility. Clearly, advocating Hitler and Nazism is both wrong and harmful for Taiwan's international image," it added.

The NSA says it has 20 members and 800 supporters planning to join it. NSA's Web site is emblazoned with an emblem similar to a swastika. The group says it was founded 19 months ago, but only became known recently. It claims to study the "good theories" of Hitler, like building a welfare state and wants to restore Chinese values, but also favors limiting the number of foreign workers. On its Web site, some of the members have signed their names as "Hitler," "Hess," "Colonel," "Nazi Station Master" and "Gestapo." The self-exposure of the NSA has triggered concerns that this could herald the emergence of a neo-Nazi movement in Taiwan.

Israel's de facto ambassador to Taiwan, Raphael Gamzou, earlier this week expressed concern over the group. The Simon Wiesenthal Center has also condemned the NSA for its worship of Hitler. A news broadcast by CTI TV yesterday reported that one person had showed up at Taichung train station yesterday and claimed the planned gathering was simply one for fans of World War II militarism.

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