Former political prisoners and families of political victims yesterday demanded the resignation of the Council for Cultural Affairs (CCA) chief for changing the name and designation of a site dedicated to rights activists.
The group staged a demonstration outside the CCA office and called on council Chairwoman Huang Pi-twan (黃碧端) to step down for changing the name of the former Taiwan Human Rights Memorial Jingmei Park in Taipei.
The memorial was created in 2007 on the site of the former Jingmei military detention center, where thousands of political dissidents were tried and jailed during the White Terror period.
Earlier this month, the council changed the site's name to Jingmei Cultural Park without consulting former political prisoners who were once jailed there. The council also said it would allow artistic groups to use the rooms — and alter the interior if necessary — in buildings on the grounds.
The move drew strong opposition from human rights activists and was criticized by many former political prisoners as a step by the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) to erase its sordid past.
Despite the objections, the council only promised to be careful in selecting which groups would to be allowed to use the park and that it would continue to focus on human rights efforts.
The council's promises failed to satisfy its critics.
“[President] Ma Ying-jeou [馬英九] first broke his promise and changed the name of the National Democracy Memorial Hall back to Chiang Kai-shek [蔣介石] Memorial Hall. Then the budget for the 228 Memorial Foundation was scrapped. Now, the government changes the name of the Taiwan Human Rights Memorial Jingmei Park,” said Lin Hsiao-yun (林小雲), a family member of a 228 Incident victim. “[Both Ma and Huang] need to step down!”
Chen Peng-yun (陳鵬雲), a political dissident who served 15 years in prison, condemned the council for “wanting to cover up the murders committed by Chiang” and for “showing great disrespect” to political prisoners.
Behind the protesters were supporters who held up signs and photos of executed dissidents before and after their execution.
The council offered to meet with the demonstrators, but they refused.
“We don't want to see any official. It's meaningless to meet with officials because the CCA is not changing its mind,” a protestor told a police officer, who delivered the council's message.