Thu, Jun 09, 2011 - Page 8 News List

Taiwan must fight for true justice

By Chen Mei-chin 陳美津

However, it is the responsibility of the members of a civilized society to have a conscience and to stand up for what is right and just. A shared civility and conscience could not have allowed former chief of the general staff Peng Meng-chi (彭孟緝), known as the “Butcher of Kaohsiung” for his role in the 228 Incident, to live freely and openly in Taiwan, and subsequently in the US, for many decades.

The leaders of Serbia recently tried to make amends for the past when they handed general Ratko Mladic, the alleged mastermind of the 1995 Srebrenica massacre, to the International Court of Justice in The Hague. Such a cleansing of the past has never happened in Taiwan.

Another heinous crime, the 1980 murder of the mother and twin daughters of former DPP chairman Lin Yi-hsiung (林義雄), is to this day “unsolved” because no one who has knowledge of what happened has come forward with information.

It is regrettable that Taiwanese society is still lacking a conscience. We need to be less preoccupied with making money and focus more on building a caring society where the people themselves ensure that grave excesses like the 228 Massacre, the murder of Lin’s family and the wrongful execution of Chiang Kuo-ching cannot and do not recur.

This takes moral courage from the citizenry, but it also requires laws and judicial procedures that protect the rights of individuals. One very fundamental violation of human rights is the death penalty itself. If Taiwan really wants to be part of the 21st century, abolition would be a good first step.

Chen Mei-chin is a Washington-based commentator.

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