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Mon, Jul 17, 2000 - Page 4 News List

Lu helps recall Taiwan's oppressed

SEEKING JUSTICE The vice president joined a ceremony for the relaunch of an organization dedicated to seeking compensation for those politically persecuted under the KMT's regime

By Monique Chu  /  STAFF REPORTER

Vice President Annette Lu pays her respects to the victims of political oppression yesterday, at the launching ceremony for the Taiwan Association for the Care of the Victims of Political Persecution during the Martial Law Period. Standing on her right is the association's chairman Liu Chin-shih.

PHOTO: GEORGE TSORNG, TAIPEI TIMES

Some 150 victims of political persecution during Taiwan's martial law period from 1949 to 1987 gathered yesterday to form an association that will attempt to make Taiwan face up to a tragic chapter in its history.

The Taiwan Association for the Care of the Victims of Political Persecution during the Martial Law Period (台灣戒嚴時期政治受難者關懷協會) says its founding principles are two-fold: ensuring that future generations learn from Taiwan's tragic past; and push the government to accelerate compensation for those who suffered political persecution.

"Our first priority is to set up a memorial in remembrance of those who were executed or died in prison for their pro-Taiwan independence stance," said Sun Chiu-yuan (孫秋源), the new organization's deputy director.

Sun himself languished in jail between 1961 and 1971 after he was charged with treason for his part in an anti-government movement at the turn of the 1960s.

Sun recalled the pain he and his counterparts went through after being released from prison.

"We were no longer qualified to work as public servants, and many private companies slammed the door in our faces. Even when we landed a job, some were told not to come to work anymore on the second day of employment," Sun said.

"Even some of our own relatives began to shun us," he said.

Although the stigma as ex-political prisoners has gradually started to fade with democratization, Sun still appealed to the public to show concern for all Taiwan's victims of political persecution.

Speaking at the organization's inauguration ceremony, Vice President Annette Lu (呂秀蓮) said the younger generation should be offered an opportunity to learn from history "written by these victims' tears and shattered lives."

Lu also underlined the government's determination to do more for those who suffered under the KMT's sometimes brutal regime.

Hu Chin-piao (胡錦標) and Tsai Ching-yen (蔡清彥), both ministers without portfolio, were currently in charge of compensating victims of political persecution, Lu said.

Association member and renowned writer Yang Ching-chu (楊青矗) said the organization will push for further legislation to expand the scope of such compensation.

Yang, too, was imprisoned for four years for his participation in the Kaohsiung Incident (美麗島事件) of 1979.

The incident occurred on Dec. 10 that year, sparked by an anti-government parade organized by Formosa magazine -- a front for a broad alliance of the so-called tang wai (黨外, "outside the party") activists.

The parade degenerated into violence when a confrontation broke out between demonstrators and police. The organizers, known as the Kaohsiung Eight, were sentenced to between 12 years and life in prison, and were released at various times between 1987 and 1990. Annette Lu was one of them.

The new association, formerly known as the Taiwan Union for the Victims of Political Persecution (台灣政治受難者聯誼總會), has existed unofficially for the past 10 years. However, members of the union refused to register the organization with the Ministry of the Interior as a matter of principle.

Each organization that wished to register with the ministry was required to bear the title of the Republic of China (ROC) -- a title renounced by independence advocates, such as Sun.

After the regulation was abolished last year, Sun decided to rename the organization and relaunch it as the Taiwan Association for the Care of the Victims of Political Persecution during the Martial Law Period.

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