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Fri, Sep 10, 1999 - Page 3 News List

`We deserve fair treatment'

POLITICAL HISTORY Protesters are demanding that White Terror victims should be compensated according to the same criteria as 2-28 Incident victims

By Brian Hsu  /  STAFF REPORTER

Victims of the White Terror stage a demonstration in front of the Executive Yuan yesterday, demanding compensation for their suffering.

PHOTO: CHEN CHENG-CHANG, TAIPEI TIMES

Hundreds of "White Terror" victims and their relatives yesterday launched a protest in front of the Executive Yuan, demanding equitable and fair treatment in the awarding of compensation for their unjust persecution during one of the darkest periods of Taiwan's history.

It was the second protest of its kind since the government established a special foundation with NT$10 billion in funds last December to handle the affair. The foundation was set up according to the terms of a law passed in May last year covering the disbursement of compensation for people who were persecuted during the so-called White Terror period.

The White Terror has come to be known as a period of severe repression in Taiwan's history when the government cracked down on numerous kinds of social movements under the directive of suppressing communism. Although details are often sketchy, it is commonly held to have begun in the early 1950s and continued until shortly before the lifting of martial law in 1987. Some 5,000 people are believed to have been executed and another 10,000 imprisoned during the period, according to justice ministry figures, though other sources claim the crackdown had as many as 90,000 victims.

Lawmakers from the DPP and the New Party were joined by New Party presidential candidate Li Ao (李敖), who was jailed for subversion during the period, at the protest to drum up support for the compensation claims.

The main point of yesterday's protest was the calculation of the compensation amount for White Terror victims and relatives, ranging from NT$6 million at the highest to a basic level of NT$100,000. It is supposed to be calculated according to penalties meted out or jail terms served, but the victims' group said the amounts on offer were far inferior to the package put together for victims of the 2-28 Incident.

Former DPP lawmaker Hsieh Tsung-ming (謝聰敏), who originally proposed the compensation legislation, lashed out at the Executive Yuan.

"All Cabinet members should be re-educated to improve their understanding of the law, since it mandates compensation according to the model set for victims of the 2-28 Incident."

The 2-28 Incident refers to a series of islandwide massacres conducted by newly arrived KMT soldiers from the mainland, which began around Feb. 28, 1947 and killed an estimated 20,000 people.

Known as the "Martial Law-Enacted Period Political Events Handling Association" (戒嚴時期政治事件處理協會), the protest's organizers pointed out that the government was initially willing to give each White Terror victim only half of the compensation that 2-28 Incident victims were awarded. A 2-28 Incident victim jailed for eight years and three months qualifies to receive NT$5 million in compensation, while a White Terror victim needs to have served a jail term of ten years to get the same amount, they said.

"Only in August did the government give some ground and raise the compensation amount to around 70 percent of that for a 2-28 Incident victim," they said, adding that this was still not enough.

Kuo Hui-ling (郭慧玲), secretary general of the association, said she would continue the struggle for parity. "The association will go on with its campaign to help the White Terror victims get what they deserve.

"Our future efforts will be focused on the two main agencies responsible for this issue -- the Ministry of National Defense and the foundation established by the government," Kuo said.

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