Former victims of political persecution and the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) yesterday slammed the government for neglecting evidence relating to the White Terror period after interrogation records were found at an abandoned Ministry of Justice building.
Yesterday’s Chinese-language Apple Daily reported that the documents, along with body parts in jars, had been left scattered at the Investigation Bureau’s abandoned Ankeng Guesthouse in Taipei County.
The guesthouse, once used as an office by the notorious Taiwan Garrison Command, was used to question dissidents and criminal suspects during the Martial Law era.
PHOTO: LIN CHING-CHUAN, TAIPEI TIMES
The Taiwan Garrison Command was a military state security agency during the Martial Law era from 1949 to 1992.
The newspaper printed photos taken inside the building of human body parts in glass jars. Both the newspaper and the government said the body parts belonged to homicide victims and were unrelated to politics.
The newspaper’s reporters were able to enter the derelict office and take photos of the documents and human remains.
Among the documents found inside were records of the interrogations of late DPP chairman Huang Hsin-chieh (黃信介); the late writer, human rights activist and one-time political prisoner Bo Yang (柏楊); and former national policy adviser Hsieh Tsung-min (謝聰敏), who was also once a political prisoner.
The DPP slammed the government for failing to preserve and disclose the documents.
“How can important documents that hold vital information about the White Terror era be discarded this way? We think someone should take responsibility for this,” DPP Legislator Wong Chin-chu (翁金珠) told a press conference.
At a separate setting, DPP Spokesman Cheng Wen-tsang (鄭文燦) said the National Archives Administration under the Research, Development and Evaluation Commission had asked the bureau to collect and clear all archives of documents from the White Terror era, but the bureau had clearly not complied.
“The Investigation Bureau violated the National Archives Act (國家檔案法) and its officials should be investigated,” Cheng said.
Hsieh said: “They [Taiwan Garrison Command officials] told me they conducted human experiments on a mountain in Jingmei [景美], but few people knew where it was. Most people were taken to the place blindfolded and few of them came back.”
He said both former president Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) and President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) had failed to conduct a proper investigation into the fates of political prisoners during the White Terror era.
Asked by the Taipei Times why the documents had not been dealt with under the two-term Chen administration, Cheng said the government had not been aware of them. Had it known, it would have requested action, he said.
Lin Shih-yu (林世煜), an academic specializing in the White Terror era, called for the Investigation Bureau to give the National Archives Administration all documents on political prisoners that the Ministry of National Defense’s Secrets Bureau gave to it in 1955 — the year the secrets bureau was disbanded.
Documents belonging to the Taiwan Garrison Command’s Security Department should also be handed over to the archives administration immediately, he said.
Lin said that a defunct unit of the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) known as the special agent department had documents on dissidents, the location of which is now unknown. The Ministry of Education’s military education department also has a number of documents on dissidents.
Minister of Justice Wang Ching-feng (王清峰) yesterday asked the ministry to launch an investigation into the matter, while Tsai Chung-yu (蔡中鈺), deputy director of the Investigation Bureau, admitted that the bureau had mismanaged the Ankeng facility.
“We will organize the contents and hand them over to the National Archives Administration,” he said.
He said the materials were photographs and fingerprints taken from detainees and not classified personal data, but added that the bureau would hand them over to the administration for safe keeping.
Lin Tsyr-ling (林慈玲), acting director-general of the National Archives Administration, said yesterday that the administration had urged the Investigation Bureau to organize the materials as soon as possible.
Lin said the administration had not been aware that so many materials had been left unguarded and “neither was the Investigation Bureau’s archives administration” aware.
“The place houses a miscellany of documents, some of which seem, at first glance, unnecessary to keep in the archives, but we hope the Investigation Bureau will examine them all carefully,” Lin said after visiting the Ankeng facility.
Lin said the discovery reflected problems with the collection of documents from the Martial Law era.
“As the Archives Act (檔案法) was not implemented until 2002, the government got a late start in managing the archives. A major problem was that some state agencies were dissolved with the lifting of martial law and they did not transfer their documents to other agencies,” Lin said.
When asked for comment, KMT Legislator Chang Hsien-yao (張顯耀) urged the bureau to file the data as soon as possible.
“[The guesthouse] became a warehouse after the Investigation Bureau took it over from the Taiwan Garrison Command because no particular government agency was put in charge of it,” Chang said.
ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY SHELLEY HUANG, FLORA WANG AND AP
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