Sun, Jan 07, 2018 - Page 6 News List

A lesson in what White Terror was

By Shih Ming-hsiung 施明雄

One of Shih Ming-te’s classmates was studying at the Republic of China Military Academy (陸軍官校) at the time, and for that reason alone the special agent decided to arrest all students at the academy who were registered as hailing from Taiwan. It was not until the superintendent of the academy appealed to the higher authorities that a large group of these students were released.

Among other victims in this case, 32-year-old Sung Ching-sung (宋景松), a worker with only an elementary-school education, was sentenced to death.

Having worked as a staff reporter of the Taiwan Tribune (台灣公論報), a dangwai (黨外, “outside the party”) newspaper founded by Lee Wan-chu (李萬居) and other eminent figures, Sung was first charged with an offense carrying a minimum 10-year sentence in accordance with Article 2.3 of the Act for the Control and Punishment of Rebellion (懲治叛亂條例), but in the formal verdict, he was sentenced to death in accordance with the infamous Article 2.1 of the same act.

These kinds of atrocities and misconduct are what really happened during the White Terror era and should be documented in textbooks.

When the “Taiwan Independence League” case appeared, Shih Ming-te was transferred from Little Kinmen back to Taiwan, where he passed through several torturing institutions. When a military court finally sentenced him to life imprisonment, he had already had numerous teeth broken during torture. He was not allowed to write home, let alone see a dentist. In his early 20s, he had very few teeth left.

Here is another true story: In 1954, a crippled and illiterate old man named Kuo Chih-kao (郭知高) was farming on a mountain. One day a stranger came to his house and asked for some water to drink, and Kuo, a generous man, invited the stranger to share a meal — a meager meal of only rice with sweet potato and preserved radish omelet — and to stay in his little cottage overnight.

A couple of weeks later, the district police officer brought along several burly grim-faced men and detained Kuo, bringing him to the MJIB. The special agent claimed that the stranger Kuo had invited to dine and stay overnight with him was a “communist bandit.” Kuo was subsequently charged with “assisting communist bandits” and sentenced to 10 years in prison.

In 1962, as Kuo was serving his time in the Ankeng Military Prison (安坑軍人監獄) in Sindian (新店), where he was assigned to tend the pigs in the open prison, he applied for bereavement leave with a monitor staff member to accompany him after his mother died. His application was rejected. Desperate, Kuo secretly ran away and went home, but he returned to the prison just in time for the roll call that night.

After this incident, Kuo was given extra prison time on account of his “inclination to escape” and was detained in the same cell as me. Humpbacked, crippled, illiterate and handicapped after having fallen from a tree as a child, Kuo was never set free by the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) government. He had to serve 10 years in prison only because of his kindness to a stranger.

That is what an abhorrent regime it was.

To make this incident even more horrendously ridiculous, Kuo was soon transferred back to the open prison to tend pigs, because nobody else was taking care of the livestock, the selling of which made officers and soldiers some extra money.

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