A memorial service was held in New Taipei City yesterday to commemorate those who suffered during the White Terror era, a period of political persecution that took place under the nation’s Martial Law era, which lasted from May 19, 1949, to July 15, 1987.
More than 100 victims and their families attended the event at the Jingmei Human Rights Memorial and Cultural Park, where a Buddhist priest chanted prayers to remember the victims.
“We should be grateful to the contributions made by our persecuted political predecessors and their families, and forever remember that they were the reason we can all participate in politics and enjoy 100 percent freedom of speech. They also remind us of the importance of protecting human rights,” Deputy Minister of Culture Celestine Ding (丁曉菁) said at the event.
The ministry hopes to establish a human-rights museum as soon as possible, as part of President Tsai Ing-wen’s (蔡英文) program of pushing for transitional justice, Ding said.
The Preparatory Office of the National Human Rights Museum has formed an advisory committee tasked with drafting an organic law for the museum, which is to collect, study and exhibit human rights archives and artifacts from the nation’s post-World War II authoritarian period, she said.
Yeh Kuang-yi (葉光毅) said his father Yeh Sheng-chi (葉盛吉), then a student at National Taiwan University College of Medicine, was executed in 1950, aged 27, after he joined the communist party in an effort to realize his social ideals.
He said his father’s death caused him grief, dejection and uncertainty, but his story did not just involve suffering and shattered dreams, but also the human spirit and excellence.
He expressed the hope that the public would put more emphasis on human life, human rights, civic issues and the pursuit of transitional justice.
The White Terror refers to the suppression of political dissent following the 228 Incident of 1947, an anti-government uprising that triggered a brutal crackdown by then-Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) authorities.
During the White Terror era, an estimated 10,000 to 30,000 people were killed and an estimated 140,000 to 200,000 people were imprisoned.