Fri, May 20, 2005 - Page 2 News List

White Terror exhibit unveils part of the truth

A 10-day exhibition at Taipei Railway Station takes a look at one of the darkest chapters in Taiwan's history: the White Terror era. It lasted for decades and many questions remain unresolved today

By Huang Tai-lin  /  STAFF REPORTER

In September 1986, this movement culminated in the formation of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), which soon grew into a full-fledged opposition party.

The selection of the cases was based on the number of victims involved, the significance of the case and level of absurdity, among others factors, said committee member Chen I-shen.

Lee said that cases committed during the White Terror could be divided into several categories: to strike down pro-Communists or left wing rhetoric and conduct; to crush Taiwanese independence movements and ideas; to purge the Aboriginal elite and to oppress dissenters within the democratic movement; in-fighting within the intelligence agencies; rhetoric used -- ?whether privately or in public -- ?that ran counter to the interests of authorities; and fabricated cases made up by secret agents solely for the purpose of competing for personal benefit.

Unsolved cases

Of all political cases that took place between 1949 and 1960, approximately 2,000 people were executed and 8,000 were sentenced to severe punishment.

Save the less than 900 people who were really members of the Communist Party, the remaining 9000 people were victims of fabricated evidence and injustice, according to research conducted by members of the committee.

Lee said the Kaohsiung Incident taught the ruling dictator a lesson -- that is, political questions cannot be resolved mathematically.

"Ten minus five equals five is a mathematical equation. However, arresting five dissidents out of 10 won't necessarily leave five of them. Many more dissidents will rise to take their places," Lee said.

Since taking office in 2000, the DPP administration under President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) has emphasized its commitment to protecting and respecting human rights and building Taiwan into a human rights-oriented nation. The best way to fulfil that promise is to start uncovering the truth and bring justice to the victims and their families.

"Investigations into these cases of injustice are not to seek retaliation but to uncover the truth," said the Vice President.

"It is the hope that through reviewing Taiwan's tragic past that we can gain a more objective understanding of the history and to cherish the fruits of democracy that we have today," Lu added.

To this day, there are many unresolved cases from the White Terror. Among these are the murder of Chen Wen-cheng (陳文成), who was found dead on the lawn of National Taiwan University after being taken away by the secret police, and the murder of family members of former DPP chairman Lin I-hsiung (林義雄). These are just two of the most commonly cited of many unsolved cases.

Chen last December vowed to push the legislature to set up investigation committees to look into cases such as the 1947 228 Incident, the Kaohsiung Incident and unresolved cases from the White Terror era.

"The more we know, the better we forgive," Swiss author Germaine de Stael once said.

With the pain of not knowing what happened, or in some cases even the location of the victim's burial site, loved ones left behind can only heal when the truth is finally unearthed, Yang said.

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