The concerted effort of those who went through political persecution kept the flame of Taiwan’s democracy alive, Presidential Office Secretary-General Chen Chu (陳菊) said yesterday ahead of the 40th anniversary of the Kaohsiung Incident.
The oppression, authoritarian rule and Martial Law period in Taiwan gave the people a cause, Chen said at a seminar organized by the National Human Rights Museum in Taipei, which is hosting an international conference titled “Comparative Studies of Democratization in East Asia” ahead of the 40th anniversary of the Kaohsiung Incident on Tuesday next week.
“We suffered much, but we never gave up our hopes or our ideals,” said Chen, who was arrested over the incident and jailed for six years during the White Terror era. “If one can dedicate their life toward realizing an ideal, it would be truly romantic.”
The Kaohsiung Incident was a pro-democracy demonstration organized by Formosa Magazine employees on Dec. 10, 1979.
Society changed visibly after the incident, Chen said.
Chen thanked the people of that era for willingly and bravely standing up for protesters, especially for political activist Shih Ming-te (施明德) while he was a fugitive.
She also honored the late Reverend Kao Chun-ming (高俊明) for “being willing to protect people and treat them with decency in those times.”
“The people of the Formosa Incident era will inevitably grow old and pass away, but the new generation, with their ideals for how Taiwan should be and their search for democracy and freedom, that has not and will not change,” Chen said.
This is the spirit that the younger generation must embrace, she said.
Deputy Minister of Culture Kevin Peng (彭俊亨) said that the Kaohsiung Incident was a crucial point in the development of Taiwan’s democracy.
Many young winners of the Ministry of Culture’s awards say they cherish the “free and liberal creative environment” that allows them to create works that have uniquely Taiwanese features, Peng said.
Thanks go to those who helped bring about this freedom, he said.
While Taiwan differs greatly compared with four decades ago, “threats and oppression still exist,” Peng said, calling on the people to uphold and maintain the nation’s democracy.
National Museum of Korean Contemporary History director Chu Chin-oh and Sungkonghoe University professor Kim Dong-choon shared perspectives of history and political sociology from democratization in South Korea.
Hong Kong Human Rights Monitor deputy chair Chong Yiu-kwong (莊耀洸) and Initium Media editor-in-chief Lee Chih-te (李志德) analyzed current events in Hong Kong.
An exhibition on the Kaohsiung Incident is to open tomorrow at the White Terror Memorial Park in Sindian’s Jingmei (景美) area. It runs through Sept. 30.
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