White Terror probe to be finished in three years: Tsai

By Weng Lu-huang, Su Fang-ho and Jake Chung  /  Staff reporters, with staff writer

Sun, Dec 11, 2016 - Page 1

President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) yesterday pledged to complete the first-ever official investigative report on the White Terror era within three years, saying that past deeds could be forgiven, but not forgotten.

At an event to mark Human Rights Day at the Jingmei Human Rights Memorial and Cultural Park in New Taipei City, Tsai said the government was looking into “political files” regarding the White Terror era, calling them the “last piece of the puzzle” in the government’s investigative report.

“Going through all the documents is a mammoth task. Many of the political files from 1945 to the 1992 amendment to Article 100 of the Criminal Code are scattered among various government agencies, such as the Military Intelligence Bureau and the Investigation Bureau,” Tsai said.

“Nevertheless, no matter how much dust that has accumulated on top of the files, we will dig out each and every one of them. We will let this part of history see the light of day,” she said.

The president said that the government’s attempt to achieve transitional justice does not target any individual or political party, nor is it aimed at galvanizing political conflict among ethnic groups.

“The experiences of political persecution go beyond ethnic boundaries,” Tsai said.

The White Terror era refers to a period of repression that began after the 228 Incident in 1947, when an anti-government uprising was violently suppressed by the then-Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) government, which later declared martial law and initiated purges.

Historians estimate that between 10,000 and 30,000 people were killed during the crackdown.

During the event, Tsai also conferred upon the seven children of White Terror era victim Chang Yu-lan (張玉蘭) certificates that symbolically restore their mother’s dignity.

Chang, a deputy stationmaster at the Taiwan Railways Administration’s Pingtung Station, was subjected to severe torture during her 254-day detention after being arrested on suspicion of colluding with communist rebels.

Earlier yesterday, Tsai visited the Taiwan Foundation for Democracy to preside over an award ceremony presenting the Asia Federation Against Involuntary Disappearances with the Asia Democracy and Human Rights Award.

Taiwan is willing to commit to increased dialogue and interactions with the rest of the world on the issues of freedom, democracy and human rights, Tsai said.

The federation’s efforts have been one of the main causes for the UN to adopt the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearances in 2006, and despite limited resources and political pressure, the federation has continued to track and help missing people.

One of the most common reasons for disappearances is political oppression, Tsai said, adding that Taiwan is willing to share its experiences to say thank you for the support and encouragement from the international community during the nation’s struggle for freedom and democracy.

The nation is willing to adopt closer cooperation with the federation, Tsai said, adding that she is looking forward to the foundation’s efforts to spread democracy, freedom and human rights not only to Asia, but also around the world.