Mon, Dec 11, 2006 - Page 2 News List

Forum debates use of files from White Terror period

BALANCE One participant said that handling the files serves multiple goals. Aside from uncovering the truth there is also the question of helping victims' families heal

By Shih Hsiu-chuan  /  STAFF REPORTER

President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) yesterday said he is duty-bound to make public confidential files on major political cases even though the action would initially impact the public negatively.

"The action is to achieve social justice and smooth scars from history, which is good for the country's long-term development," Chen said.

Chen made the remarks in a forum on the issue of making public historical files and revealing past injustices.

The forum, hosted by Academia Historica, was aimed at honoring International Human Rights Day and the beginning of the institute by sorting out confidential files which were recently submitted by the Ministry of National Defense (MND).

The ministry submitted the files to Academia Historica after Chen said in his Double Ten National Day speech that the government should speed up decryption of all official confidential files.

Academia Historica then invited a group of experts on related political cases to review the files and present their opinions in the forum.

Under cover

"Although some confidential files concerning the 228 Incident and the Formosa Incident have been disclosed, many files about the political cases during the White Terror period are still kept secret," said Chang Yen-hsien (張炎憲), the head of Academia Historica.

Chang said that the country had a long way to go before making confidential files public.

"To uncover historical truth is not just about revealing confidential files. Finding out who should be responsible for the political cases and bringing comfort to the victims' families are also part of the task," he said.

Hsieh Tsong-min (謝聰敏), a political prisoner who was arrested for alleged acts of insurrection during the martial law era, said he believed that not all confidential files were included in what the ministry submitted to Academia Historica.

"There were about 29,000 cases of political persecution during the Martial Law era, involving 140,000 people. The government has to make all confidential files public if bringing justice to the victims is its goal," Hsieh told the forum.

Tibusungu Vayayana (汪明輝), a geography associate professor at National Taiwan Normal University, said he found that there was some difficulty in verifying the accuracy of the confidential files while reviewing them over the last two years.

Not the same

"Some stories I read from the files were those I had heard in my tribe in my childhood, but I found that they were not exactly the same," he said.

"When Aboriginal political victims were questioned, they had to express themselves through translation," he added. "It's questionable whether they said what they really wanted to say; their inner thoughts."

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