Former president Lee Teng-hui (李登輝) is returning to Taitung County’s Green Island (綠島) for the first time in 14 years where he is scheduled to make a symbolic visit to a human rights memorial park today.
As president, Lee helped raise funds to erect a monument in the Green Island Memorial Park to commemorate the thousands of political prisoners who passed through the prison on the remote island during the White Terror era under the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) regime.
Lee personally unveiled the monument, which was built using the NT$20 million (US$670,000) in revenue from the sales of his book, Taiwan’s Views, on Dec. 10, 1999, World Human Rights Day. At the unveiling he issued an official apology on behalf of the government for the first time to all the political prisoners and those who were oppressed during the White Terror era.
The visit to the island was meaningful for Lee because of his instrumental role in lifting the 38-year Martial Law era and initiating the “silent revolution,” which earned him credit for facilitating the peaceful transformation of Taiwan from an authoritarian regime to a democracy.
Lee is also scheduled to attend a forum with four former political prisoners today in the park, according to his office.
The 90-year-old embarked on a three-day visit to Taitung yesterday as part of a series of nationwide tours that began in April last year.
Lee visited the National Museum of Prehistory and held a meeting with members of the Taiwan East Society yesterday.
Responding to media inquiries about the recent meeting between former KMT chairman Wu Poh-hsiung (吳伯雄) and Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平), during which Wu reaffirmed the “one China” framework and said both sides of the Taiwan Strait share the same ancestry, Lee said Wu’s remarks were inappropriate and incorrect.
“Like the US, Taiwan has always been a country of immigrants and a society with diverse cultures. I wonder why [cross-strait relations] are still based on minzu (民族) in their eyes,” Lee said.
With regards to the “one China” framework, Lee said the ideology has been “a lie to the international community” since former US secretary of state Henry Kissinger and former Chinese premier Zhou Enlai (周恩來) coined the phrase in the 1970s.
“There are true issues and there are pseudo issues. The ‘one China’ policy is a pseudo issue,” Lee said.