Sun, Jul 04, 2004 - Page 3 News List

Rights groups want to see DPP action on crimes from the authoritarian era

THE TRUTH Some who remember the bad old days think the president should forget about forgiveness and instead pursue information about political violence

By Lin Chieh-yu  /  STAFF REPORTER

Historians and human rights groups recently asked the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) government to put more effort into finding out the truth behind murders and other incidents that occurred during the martial-law era under the former Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) government.

They also urged leaders of the KMT and its ally the People First Party (PFP) -- some of whom were high-ranking officials during the martial-law era -- to tell the truth in order to provide comfort to the relatives of people involved in the incidents.

"The dictatorial era has been over for more than a decade and Taiwan has experienced democratization," said Peter Huang (黃文雄), an advisor to the president and former president of the Taiwan Association for Human Rights (台灣人權促進會), "but injustices that occurred during the country's non-democracy period have not yet been clarified.

Bruised and battered

"Moreover, those who should take responsibility for those incidents have neither been identified nor punished," Huang said.

Yesterday was the 23rd anniversary of the death of Chen Wen-chen (陳文成), a dissident who arrived in Taiwan on July 2, 1981 from the US to visit his family. His bruised and battered body was discovered on the campus of National Taiwan University after he had been detained and interrogated by the Taiwan Garrison General Headquarters.

Some human rights advocates and human rights lawyers attended a conference Friday to discuss achieving justice. They also held a memorial for Chen yesterday.

White terror

Participants mentioned several well-known incidents, including the murders of former DPP party leader Lin I-hsiung's (林義雄) family, the 228 Incident and numerous other cases stemming from the White Terror era.

"Some core members of the former KMT authority are still active in politics, especially KMT Chairman Lien Chan (連戰) and PFP Chairman James Soong (宋楚瑜) -- who was serving as director of the Government Information Office," said Lee Yung-chih (李永熾), National Taiwan University professor of history.

"They made a big fuss to the international community and even urged the US government to find out the `truth' of the assassination attempt on the president and vice president, but those two people were the ones that refused to assist the international community in investigating the truth behind Chen Wen-chen's death," Lee said.

"Every time the grassroots -- the Taiwanese people -- ask for redress concerning these historical incidents, members of the former KMT authority and even many members of the media just say that we should forget those historical tragedies and not arouse ethnic conflict," Lee said.

Kenneth Chiu (邱晃泉) of the law firm Kew & Lord said that right now the government and the media only focus on compensating victims but ignore other issues, such as finding out what really happened.

"The relatives may not be interested in punishing anyone. However, they still expect to know what exactly happened, and we hope that the DPP government can enhance its efforts in determining the truth," Chiu said.

President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) and his wife Wu Shu-chen (吳淑珍) are themselves the victims of totalitarian rule: Wu has been in a wheelchair since a 1985 car incident that is widely being regarded as an attempted murder that was intended to kill her husband.

No revenge

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