Sun, Dec 08, 2019 - Page 3 News List

Declassified bureau files reveal how the KMT monitored ‘Formosa Magazine’

By ChenYu-fu  /  Staff reporter

A layout of the editorial office of Formosa Magazine created by the then-Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) government before the first issue of the magazine was published is pictured in an undated photograph provided by the Transitional Justice Commission.

Photo provided by the Transitional Justice Commission

Recently declassified National Security Bureau files showed that the former Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) regime was keeping close tabs on Formosa Magazine and learned the entire content of its first issue before it went to print.

Formosa Magazine was at the center of 1979’s Kaohsiung Incident, also known as the Formosa Incident.

The magazine organized a pro-democracy demonstration on Dec. 10, 1979. It was intended to commemorate Human Rights Day.

The event turned violent when members of the crowd unknown to the organizers — and widely believed to have been provocateurs — began attacking police. The KMT authorities used the Incident as an excuse to arrest virtually all well-known opposition leaders.

Tuesday is the 40th anniversary of the Kaohsiung Incident.

The commission on Friday said that it has been in contact with the bureau since the Political Archives Act (政治檔案條例) was passed, in the hope of obtaining declassified files about the Incident.

The commission said that it worked closely with several agencies to facilitate the declassification and transfer of data about state-perpetrated injustice during the White Terror era.

At first it was not easy, as all files on the Kaohsiung Incident had been permanently classified, the commission said.

Thanks to assistance from the Presidential Office and National Security Council, the classified documents eventually saw the light of day, it said.

The data detailed how the then-KMT government surveilled Formosa Magazine from when it was founded to the publication of its first issue, the commission said, adding that the magazine was being so closely monitored that the KMT knew the entire content of its first issue before it went to print, including the layout of its inside pages.

In the few months of the short-lived magazine’s life, intelligence agencies had embedded informants in the magazine’s office to monitor every move, the commission said.

The declassified data also offered insight into the KMT’s decisionmaking process after the Kaohsiung Incident, including its choice to round up the activists and quash dissents, all of which was missing from previously released information, the commission said.

The information would shed new light on the Incident once it is made available to the public, it added.

The National Archives Administration in 2002 began collecting data on the Incident, and last year began its sixth wave of data collection, sourcing data from the National Security Bureau, the National Police Agency and the Investigation Bureau, the commission said.

A substantial portion of the most recent data showed that many non-governmental entities had been acting on the orders of intelligence agencies and feeding them information about the magazine, it said.

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