Fri, May 10, 2019 - Page 8 News List

The truth must be uncovered now

By Chou Ni-an 周倪安

The legislature convened a question-and-answer session on April 8 to hear about progress on Transitional Justice Commission’s request for documents from the National Security Bureau (NSB) concerning the 228 Incident, the 1981 death of Carnegie Mellon University assistant professor Chen Wen-chen (陳文成), the murders of Lin I-hsiung’s (林義雄) mother and twin daughters, and the Kaohsiung Incident.

To this end, the National Development Council’s National Archives Administration has embarked on a sixth collection of files and requested that the bureau provide 176 political files from the Martial Law period.

The NSB only forwarded 34 and listed the remaining 142 as “permanently classified.” The public cannot help but wonder if the Presidential Office endorses the bureau’s decision.

The implementation of transitional justice has been President Tsai Ing-wen’s (蔡英文) most important commitment since assuming office. If she is determined to pursue the truth, demanding that the NSB declassify the files would surely not be difficult.

The Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) regime imposed martial law in Taiwan for 38 years, the second-longest the world has ever seen. The truth of the White Terror era and wrongful political murders committed during the period remains unknown.

If the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and younger generations confine their historical perspective to a linear political evolution from the Formosa Incident to the dangwai (黨外, “outside the party”) era and on to the DPP’s establishment and its growing power, they will find it difficult to give a full picture of the development of the nation’s democracy movement. Much of this history is tainted with blood and tears.

Chen Chih-hsiung (陳智雄), the first independence activist executed by the KMT, for instance, shouted: “Long live Taiwan Independence” at the top of his lungs several times before he was killed.

Instead of removing his shackles, the prison guards cut off Chen’s feet with an axe so that he would not be able to walk to the execution ground with his head held high.

Hsinchu native Shih Ju-chen (施儒珍), a communist, joined the guerrilla resistance against the KMT after the 228 Incident. Refusing to turn himself in, Shih hid for 18 years behind a fake wall built inside his younger brother’s house.

Through a peephole in the wall, Shih witnessed his wife being raped by police. She was taken to Taipei and forced into prostitution. He also saw his family being persecuted and torn apart by secret agents.

In 1970, Shih died from jaundice, because he did not dare go to see a doctor, and was hastily buried in the backyard.

In February 1970, Cheng Chin-ho (鄭金河), Chen Liang (陳良), Chan Tien-tseng (詹天增), Chiang Ping-hsing (江炳興), Hsieh Tung-jung (謝東榮) and Cheng Cheng-cheng (鄭正成), six political prisoners at Taiyuan Prison (泰源監獄) in Taitung County, planned to stage an uprising by snatching firearms and occupying a radio station to broadcast a declaration of Taiwanese independence to the world and call for Taiwanese to overthrow the Chiang Kai-shek (蔣介石) regime.

Caught in the act, they fled into the mountains before being captured several months later. They were executed as martyrs for a noble cause.

After their execution, secret agents demanded a high ransom from their families to hand over the bodies for burial.

In July 1959, Yao Chia-chien (姚嘉薦), a Philippine-born businessman of Chinese descent and manager of the Wuhan Hotel in Taipei, hanged himself in the hotel. To persuade other Chinese to continue investing in Taiwan, Chiang Kai-shek demanded that the Investigation Bureau look into the case, originally ruled a suicide, as a murder.

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