The Ministry of Culture on Tuesday launched a new book to commemorate the White Terror era in which hundreds of thousands of political dissidents and other civilians were persecuted by the then-Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) regime.
The Chinese-language book, titled The Sad Calls of the Autumn Cicada (秋蟬的悲鳴), is a collection of 18 stories written by White Terror victims and their families, as well as articles based on interviews with them.
The book documents the victims’ lives and the suffering they endured, as well as the pain of those whose relatives vanished, were imprisoned or killed during the White Terror era from 1949 to 1987.
Minister of Culture Lung Ying-tai (龍應台) said that although she was a child at the time and did not have access to information about the White Terror, she has memories of teachers going missing and people disappearing at night.
The pain of the victims and their families is “irreparable,” regardless of the efforts of later administrations to make up for the losses, Lung said at the book launch.
One of the 15 contributors who attended the launch, Tsai Kun-lin (蔡焜霖), 83, said that police snatched him from his home one day and he was sentenced to 10 years in prison, although he had done nothing wrong.
He was not a “revolutionary fighter,” just a timid 19-year-old who “liked to read,” he said.
Tsai said he was only able to endure prison life because of the support of other inmates. He and other prisoners often sang to pass the time, which lifted their spirits, he added.
Liu Chen-tan (劉辰旦), 76, said he was sentenced to prison after being falsely accused of involvement in two bombings in 1970.
Liu said he spent his time in prison painting and practicing calligraphy, using bathroom doors as easels and producing close to 500 paintings.