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Fri, Dec 10, 1999 - Page 2 News List

DPP calls for government action

JUSTICE The party's legislators are demanding that the KMT do more than just pay lip service to the Kaohsiung Incident and take action to redress some of the injustices suffered by victims

By Stephanie Low  /  STAFF REPORTER

Three members of the Kaohsiung Eight, from left, Yao Chia-wen, Lin Yi-hsiung and Chang Chun-hung, conduct a press conference yesterday where they called on the government to take steps to redress the wrongs committed on them and others convicted of sedition in the 1970s and early 1980s.

PHOTO: GEORGE TSORNG, TAIPEI TIMES

While commemorating the 20th anniversary of the Kaohsiung Incident, now recognized as a seminal episode in Taiwan's democratic development, DPP leaders yesterday demanded the government redress the wrongs of those convicted in its aftermath and restore the "historical truth" of the Incident.

DPP legislator Chang Chun-hsiung (張俊雄) -- then a defense lawyer for the opposition politicians charged with sedition over the Incident -- said the government should take action through the legal system, rather than paying mere lip service to the event.

"When [former DPP chairman] Huang Hsin-chieh (黃信介) passed away, President Lee Teng-hui (李登輝) and Vice President Lien Chan (連戰) unanimously praised him for his contribution to Taiwan's democracy. And when some politicians yesterday revisited the prison where they had once been jailed, they were received as honored guests because of their contributions to peaceful reform," Chang said.

"Nevertheless, in the eyes of the law, these politicians are still convicted seditionists," Chang added.

Huang was sentenced and jailed for sedition over his part in the Incident, along with a group of other opposition activists who later also became key players in the DPP.

The Incident is considered to have ultimately prompted the KMT government to lift a ban on the formation of political parties in the 1980s, which made possible the founding of the DPP.

Chang said it is essential that lessons from the Incident are passed down to the next generation.

"We wish to establish the historical truth to avoid a repetition of such wrongs in the next generation," Chang said.

Chang said some mystery still surrounds the Incident, such as whether it was a trap set by the KMT in its battle against the opposition elite, or whether it was connected with the murder of the mother and two daughters of current DPP Chairman Lin I-hsiung (林義雄) -- a member of the Kaohsiung Eight -- soon after the Incident. Another unsolved mystery is the Incident's connection with the murder of Chen Wen-cheng (陳文成) -- an overseas scholar who had raised funds to help prisoners at the time.

"We wonder if these were actions ordered by the KMT to warn people against supporting the opposition movement," Chang said.

Chen Chi-mai (陳其邁), chief of the DPP caucus at the Legislative Yuan, said his caucus will demand that the government make public the official documents concerning the Kaohsiung Incident, based on the Archive Law, which passed the legislature on Nov. 30.

"The main purpose of the law is to ensure the transparency of government information to facilitate public supervision and to restore the original look of historical incidents," Chen said.

Despite the past injustices and these many mysteries, Lin said the DPP is proud to say that Taiwan is a country today owing to its democratic development over the past two decades.

"Though our democratic system still isn't very stable, though social confrontation and contradictions left over by history remain, and though the justice, harmony and peace that we expected have not reached a perfect state, we now enjoy the right and ability to realize our dreams," Lin said in an official statement issued on behalf of the DPP.

Lin said the DPP hopes to push Taiwan's democracy to maturity through the transfer of power.

Responding to the DPP's demand for redress, high-ranking officials from the Executive Yuan said the government needs some time to study the matter.

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