President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) yesterday promised to strengthen efforts to compensate victims of past political persecution and pledged to seek peace across the Taiwan Strait to create a peaceful environment and prevent any situation that might lead to the re-establishment of martial law.
“Martial law existed in Taiwan because of the wars between the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) and the Chinese Communist Party ... The only way to prevent martial law from being established again is to prevent war. Seeking peace across the Taiwan Strait, therefore, is one of the highest goals for the government,” Ma said while addressing a memorial ceremony at Jieshou Park for the White Terror victims.
The event commemorated the 22nd anniversary of the lifting of martial law. Dictator Chiang Kai-shek (蔣介石) declared martial law on May 19, 1949, and it came into effect the next day. The declaration ushered in the White Terror era and was not lifted until July 15, 1987.
Ma yesterday said there was only one standard for human rights, and all civilians should be given equal human rights regardless of their ethnicity or political affiliation.
He said that he was indicted two years ago over the mayoral allowance case, and that if he had been wrongly convicted, he would have had the same feelings as the victims of the White Terror era. Ma promised to spare no effort to defend human rights and prevent false cases in the judicial system.
Ma was indicted in February 2007 on a charge of embezzling NT$11 million (US$333,000) from his special mayoral allowance during his eight years in office. The Taipei District Court found him not guilty in August that same year.
Speaking at the same occasion, Lin Chih-chieh (林至潔), a representative of White Terror victims, urged the government to establish a national memorial hall and foundation to take better care of the victims and their families.
“We expect the government to treat the victims of the 228 Incident and the White Terror era equally. The government needs to recognize its mistakes, apologize, establish a memorial hall, provide compensation and restore our reputations,” she said.
Ma also promised to continue talking to victims and discuss possible measures to take care of them.
At a separate setting yesterday, when asked to comment on Ma’s comparison of the victims of White Terror to his mayoral fund indictment, Democratic Progressive Party Chairperson Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) said such a comparison would disappoint people.
Ma’s problem is that he does not feel or understand the deep fear, anxiety and terror that Taiwanese experienced for decades during the White Terror, Tsai said.
ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY RICH CHANG