Fri, Jan 15, 2010 - Page 3 News List

Watchdog calls for halt on detention center renovations

By Shih Hsiu-chuan  /  STAFF REPORTER

Control Yuan members yesterday called on the Council for Cultural Affairs (CCA) to preserve detention centers used to hold political prisoners during the White Terror era in their original state rather than renovate them.

The watchdog released a report on the preservation of Jingmei Human Rights Memorial Park in Taipei and Green Island Cultural Park, both created at sites that witnessed tens of thousands of political cases, involving about 140,000 victims, during the period.

Control Yuan members Huang Huang-hsiung (黃煌雄) and Shen Mei-chen (沈美真), who conducted the investigation, said many people who were held in the centers told them that the way the places had been transformed was appalling.

“I was told [by one man held at the Jingmei military detention center] that the cell was so crowded that [he and other inmates] took turns lying on the floor to sleep. Some slept standing up and some slept in a crouched position. It’s very inappropriate to embellish the rooms in a way that dramatically changes their original appearance,” Shen said.

Huang said the original appearance of the Green Island Cultural Park had changed dramatically.

“The two sites were relics of the authoritarian regime. Each building is still full of memories for the jailed political dissidents. The best way to preserve the parks would be to keep them in their original state and let that tell [the prisoners’] stories,” Huang said.

The investigation found that the CCA had spent 70 percent of the budget earmarked for the preservation of Jingmei Human Rights Memorial Park on renovations.

Huang urged the CCA to stop all renovation projects, saying that the money should be used to conduct oral history interviews with the former political dissidents to shed light on their stories.

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