The Ill-gotten Party Assets Settlement Committee’s measures to seize illicit Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) assets would fulfill the long-standing wishes of 228 Incident victims, representatives of victims’ families said yesterday.
Speaking at a news conference, the representatives also expressed their support for the government’s efforts toward transitional justice.
“We have been compensated, but the entire nation had to pay for it, not the perpetrators,” Taiwan 228 Incident Care Association director-general Pan Hsin-hsing (潘信行) said, adding that seizure of KMT assets by the committee would cover the costs of compensation.
“The committee’s moves to handle the issue are exactly what we filed for years ago, but failed to attain,” he said, referring to a suit brought by victims’ families to have the KMT pay compensation.
Committee Chairman Wellington Koo (顧立雄) had served as a pro bono lawyer for the families in the suit, he said, adding that the families have no legal connection with the committee.
The government-funded 228 Memorial Foundation has provided more than NT$7.2 billion (US$234 million at the current exchange rate) in compensation to more than 9,900 victims and family members in connection with the Incident, which refers to the crackdown launched by the then-KMT regime against civilian demonstrations following an incident in Taipei on Feb. 27, 1947. The event also marked the beginning of the White Terror era, which saw thousands of Taiwanese arrested, imprisoned and executed.
This year’s commemoration has drawn attention, as it is the first since President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) took office, even as legislature aimed at attaining transitional justice waits at the Legislative Yuan.
Foundation chairman Hsueh Hua-yuan (薛化元) called for the government to take immediate action to preserve documents related to the Incident.
“We have to find a way to overcome the issue of how and whether to present personally identifiable information when publishing the documents, but what I am more concerned about is that many documents are difficult to find because they are not explicitly labeled as being connected with the Incident,” he said, calling for a halt to the destruction of any government document while the transitional justice process is under way.
“The highest compensation was paid to victims in Changhua County, because police tracking records and name lists were found, but Kaohsiung, Keelung, Taipei and Chiayi were all more serious. However, no such complete documentation has been found there,” he said, adding that important documents might be destroyed unless academics are given rights to review them.
Pan also said that a foundation report assigning responsibility for the Incident to Chiang Kai-shek (蔣介石) should be recognized by the government.
“We are glad that the true face behind the incident has come to light, but the government has yet to recognize the report as an official conclusion,” he said, adding that official recognition would provide legal grounds for changing curriculum guidelines and removing Chiang’s statute from the National Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall in Taipei.
“All the evidence points to Chiang being responsible for the Incident, so he should have to pay a price,” he said, adding that the slow pace of transitional justice was “understandable.”