Thu, Oct 10, 2019 - Page 3 News List

Academics call for timetable to return seized assets

By Jason Pan  /  Staff reporter

Members of the Taiwan Association of University Professors hold a news conference in Taipei yesterday to urge the government to restore property seized from White Terror victims.

Photo: Tu Chien-jung, Taipei Times

The government must promptly return assets and properties seized from political prisoners and other victims of the White Terror era by the former Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) regime, members of the Taiwan Association of University Professors said yesterday.

The Transitional Justice Committee must implement a timetable to return the seized assets and properties, association deputy chairman Chen Li-fu (陳俐甫) told a news conference in Taipei.

“Under the harsh laws imposed by the authoritarian regime at the time, many people who were arrested received severely long prison terms or death sentences, as well as having all their personal valuables and assets confiscated for the national treasury,” Chen said.

The Taiwan Garrison Command still has 279 listings of assets and properties confiscated from victims of the White Terror era, Chen said, citing Ministry of National Defense data.

“We cannot say it was done in the past and forget about what happened. These are assets and properties belonging to citizens, and they must be returned to their owners on a timetable that achieves transitional justice,” he said.

Hsu Wen-tang (許文堂), an association member and a researcher at Academia Sinica’s Institute of Modern History, said a review of the command’s documents showed that most of the listings were properties.

“Our assessment indicated that in addition to the 279 file listings, the Garrison Command seized a wide range of valuable personal belongings, including gold, cash and furniture,” Hsu said.

For example, Huang Tien-liang (黃添樑), a wealthy Taipei landowner, was falsely accused of working for Chinese communists and was sentenced to 10 years in prison, Hsu said, adding that the KMT regime confiscated more than 20 properties from him, along with a large sum of cash and valuable items found at his home.

“The seized items and properties ended up going to the treasury, or were handed out as a financial reward to the accuser and given as wages and rewards to police officers and government agents working on the case. Also, the seized house and property came directly under the ownership of the Garrison Command, or its agents,” Hsu said.

One man fled after being charged with sedition and the intelligence agent in charge of the case moved into the man’s house on Taipei’s Dihua Street (迪化街), he said.

“The government was acting like bandits, taking over people’s valuables and houses,” Hsu said.

“Offering financial rewards enticed some people to wrongly accuse others, or to tarnish someone’s reputation due to a personal grudge,” he said.

“It was unjust and abhorrent for accusers and police officers to profit from such ill-gotten gains,” Hsu said.

There are old sites across Taipei where many intellectuals were imprisoned and tortured during the White Terror era, and these have been turned into museums, Northern Taiwan Society member Chang Ming-yu (張銘祐) said.

“Some of these victims are still alive, but they are frail and old and cannot wait any longer. The government must not drag its feet on returning seized personal assets and properties back to these victims,” Chang said.

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