Tue, Dec 04, 2018 - Page 8 News List

Perpetrators must not be allowed to edit history

By Shih Ming-hsiung 施明雄

On Nov. 11, the Liberty Times [sister newspaper of the Taipei Times] published an article by Hsieh Chia-hsin (謝嘉心) headlined “Taiwan is not yet ready for transitional justice.”

In the article, Hsieh refers to a symposium held by the Yin Hai-kuang Foundation, named for National Taiwan University professor Yin Hai-kuang (殷海光), whose writings opposed the authoritarian rule of the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT).

Addressing the symposium, historian Pan Kuang-che (潘光哲) said that Yin was never sentenced in court, but was instead subjected to a torrent of attacks by commentators, prevented from teaching at the university and restricted in his movements.

Agents eventually watched him around the clock and even intruded into his home. Without any court order, the agents sought to extinguish Yin’s quest for freedom in Taiwan, Pan said.

No one has ever traced who gave the order to clamp down on Yin, and it would be even more difficult to identify the departments and individual perpetrators who carried out the order. The files on Yin’s case have never been made public and his case has never been rectified.

The problem is not that Taiwan is unprepared for transitional justice, but that the perpetrators of repression under the KMT’s White Terror era and long years of authoritarian rule foresaw that there would eventually be a shift in power, leading to cases being overturned.

Fearing that their roles would be investigated, the participants had all along planned to conceal their names, backgrounds and positions, and their roles in the criminal repression. They destroyed as much evidence as they could while they still had the power to do so.

A few years ago, my younger brother and fellow dissident, Shih Ming-te (施明德), visited the National Archives Administration with his daughter to inquire about the 1970 Taiyuan Prison Incident, only to find that the informers’ names had been covered up with correction fluid.

In Yin’s case, the absence of a court judgement renders uncovering the truth and identifying the perpetrators even more complicated.

In 1962, I was arrested and imprisoned in the Jingmei military detention center. The prosecutor who indicted me and my eldest brother, Shih Ming-cheng (施明正), was Chen Tse-hsien (陳則先), a short, thin and callous military judge in his 50s who was nicknamed “The Evil Killer.”

It is difficult to know how many political prisoners he indicted and how many of them were condemned to death during his dozen years as a prosecutor. It was said that after those he condemned were shot, he would not sign and stamp their execution warrants until he had trodden on their bodies to drain their blood.

The judge who sentenced my codefendant, Sung Ching-sung (宋景松), to death was Cheng Ting (成鼎). He also sentenced Shih Ming-te and Chen San-hsing (陳三興) to life imprisonment and about 10 others to 12 years in jail, in addition to ordering the confiscation of their property.

The judge who convicted Shih Ming-cheng and myself was Nieh Kai-kuo (聶開國). Although I had an alibi, Nieh cobbled together some vague “evidence” from among the testimonies of the two dozen defendants to sentence me to five years in jail.

In its job of investigating the KMT’s countless crimes, the Transitional Justice Commission could start by publishing the names of the perpetrators who indicted, judged and sentenced the KMT’s victims.

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