Victims of the Martial Law on Thursday called on the public not to forget the atrocities and human rights violations caused by the authoritarian regime, joining artists and Ministry of Culture officials to launch this year’s Green Island Human Rights Arts Festival.
The festival is to officially begin on Wednesday, designated as Green Island Human Rights Memorial Day.
May 17 marks the day on which the first group of political prisoners was shipped to the offshore island for incarceration in 1951, a pivotal episode marking the beginning of the White Terror era under the then-Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) regime.
The Ministry of Culture, which organized the festival, has invited the public to visit Green Island and see the exhibition featuring letters, handicrafts and cultural items made by former prisoners, as well as another exhibition featuring wood carvings by political prisoner Chen Wu-jen (陳武鎮).
Chen was sentenced to two years in Green Island prison because he wrote “I am against KMT rule” during an examination in 1969, which he did not erase when handing in the paper.
“My works aim to reflect the fight against injustice. Many people were locked up and many were executed. We must never forget,” Chen said.
“I want to preserve their memory, as their souls will never die, and to help them speak out against the atrocities and hold the regime accountable for its deeds,” he said.
“These exhibitions present the cultural background and historical events of the island so people can experience the circumstances of the White Terror era,” Preparatory Office of the National Human Rights Museum director Wang Yi-chun (王逸群) said.
“We hope people can learn about how others were affected during the White Terror era, and the importance of human rights and freedom for all,” Wang said.
Former Council of Cultural Affairs chairwoman Tchen Yu-chiou (陳郁秀) said she has attended all prior May 17 activities to commemorate the political prisoners and victims of the White Terror era, and urged people to support the government’s initiative for transitional justice.
The exhibitions are to run until July 30 at the Green Island Human Rights Culture Park.
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