Fri, Apr 20, 2007 - Page 1 News List

Speaking out aids healing, Tutu tells 228 families

SUFFERING Visiting Machangding Memorial Park yesterday, the Nobel Peace Prize laureate said that facing the truth is a way of dealing with it

By Jewel Huang  /  STAFF REPORTER

Nobel Peace Prize laureate Desmond Tutu looks at the portraits of victims of the 228 Incident at the 228 Memorial Hall in Taipei yesterday.

PHOTO: LIU HSIN-DE, TAIPEI TIMES

Telling others about their traumatic experiences is a healing process for the families of victims of the 228 Incident, Nobel Peace Prize laureate Desmond Tutu said yesterday.

Tutu, the former primate of the Anglican Church of Southern Africa, made the remarks when visiting Machangding (馬場町) Memorial Park and 228 Memorial Hall in Taipei yesterday with Alexander Boraine, founding president of the International Center for Transitional Justice.

The 228 Incident was an uprising against the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) administration under dictator Chiang Kai-shek (蔣介石) that began on Feb. 27, 1947, followed by a bloody crackdown resulting in the deaths of tens of thousands of civilians.

Machangding Memorial Park is where the KMT executed political prisoners during the White Terror era in the 1950s.

Tutu is visiting the country at the invitation of the Taiwan Foundation for Democracy.

When meeting the family members of the 288 victims, Tutu said that he had not come to Taiwan to educate people on how to solve problems caused by the tragedy. He said he wanted to hear stories from the incident and advised that facing the truth humbly could be a way of dealing with it.

Establishing the Truth and Reconciliation Commission was one way that South Africa was able to cope with its racial persecution, he said. Understanding a tragic past can help people face trauma, he added.

"I think it is good therapy for the family members to tell their stories. And finding out the truth from those stories is a key to heal the wound," Tutu said, adding that the government has the responsibility of finding the truth, which is an essential element of reconciliation and forgiveness.

Tutu said that he has seen many South Africans who have suffered from apartheid that are filled with anger, wanting to take revenge. But the sufferers in Taiwan look genial and peaceful.

"I hope [the 228 victims] know that their unfortunate experiences have brought democracy, human rights and freedom to today's Taiwan," he said.

Boraine said that Taiwan and South Africa have similar tragic histories, but they both have just and peaceful voices. He also stressed that pursuing truth can bring hope to people, although it is not an easy path.

"Truth is just like herbal medicine. It tastes bitter but it can heal the past," Boraine said.

Last night, Tutu met former Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) chairman Lin I-hsiung (林義雄) at the Gikong Church (義光教會).

Lin's mother and twin daughters were murdered on Feb. 28, 1980, while he was in jail for his involvement in the Kaohsiung Incident in December 1979, a pro-human rights rally that turned violent. The murders remain unsolved.

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