Sun, Jun 23, 2019 - Page 8 News List

White Terror, Green Terror?

The DPP staunchly opposed the National Security Act in June 1987, but today opponents decry the party’s use of the law

By Han Cheung  /  Staff reporter

Protestors gather at Longshan Temple on May 19, 1986 to demand the lifting of martial law. A year later, demonstrators would reconvene to protest the National Security Act.

Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

JUNE 24 to JUNE 30

Accusations of “Green Terror” reignited this week as the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) increased sentences and fines for people spying for China (and other countries) on Wednesday. They did so by amending the National Security Act (國家安全法), which was implemented on July 1, 1987 before the lifting of martial law on July 15.

This was the same act that served as the basis for the indictment of New Party spokesman Wang Ping-chung (王炳忠) on espionage charges in June last year, which was also decried by political opponents as “Green Terror.”

What’s intriguing about this situation is that exactly 32 years ago today, DPP members staged a sit-in at the Legislative Yuan to protest the act, calling it a device for the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) to continue its reign of “White Terror” despite its promises to end martial law. The act was implemented anyway, and after several amendments over the decades, it still exists and the tables have turned in a drastically different political landscape.

Since the Chinese Nationalist Party’s (KMT) ban on opposition parties was still in effect at that time, the DPP was technically illegal and its members ran as independent candidates; newspaper reports back then put all references to the party in quotation marks. This ban ended with the lifting of martial law less than a month later.

COMMUNISTS STILL A THREAT

Upon the passing of the National Security Act on June 24, 1987, then-president Chiang Ching-kuo (蔣經國) stated in a speech that the law would “bring our country forward into a brand new era.”

“A secure environment is the most important condition for economic development and the road to democracy,” he continued. “In 1949, when our country was in a most perilous situation, martial law was declared to ensure our security … Now that [martial law] has served its purpose, under the protection of the new act, we will create a more democratic and free society that’s prosperous and progressive …”

Opposition groups had been protesting the act ever since the KMT announced their plans in October 1986. On the anniversary of the May 19, 1986 rally to end martial law, crowds gathered again to oppose the act. On June 12, supporters and critics of the law clashed in front of the Legislative Yuan.

The original version of the act still refers to the “Period of mobilization for the suppression of Communist rebellion” which wasn’t lifted until 1991. Article 2 prohibits people from gathering or forming groups for unconstitutional reasons, promoting communism or attempting to divide the country. Article 3 prohibits certain persons from leaving the country, including wanted criminals and those who are suspected with sufficient evidence of obstructing national and social security.

The next few lines appear to be general rules on border security and military zones. Military trials were banned for civilians, and provisions laid out for those undergoing trial or already convicted.

Article 2 has since been deleted from today’s version, replaced by an article prohibiting people from spying or working on behalf of the government, military or other public institutions belonging to foreign countries in addition to “the mainland.” Article 3 has also been deleted. The rest of it remains pretty much intact, except for adjusted punishments.

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