Former premier’s praise of martial law draws fire

DEFENDING THE INDEFENSIBLE::Hau Pei-tsun said that martial law was necessary to defend against communists, but his critics compared his remarks to praising Nazism

By Loa Iok-sin  /  Staff Reporter

Tue, Nov 01, 2011 - Page 3

Several human rights groups yesterday released a joint statement panning former premier Hau Pei-tsun (郝柏村) over his remarks on Sunday that the Chinese Nationalist Party’s (KMT) 38-year dictatorship during the Martial Law era was totally justified and that without it, Taiwan would not have become a democracy today.

Hau made the statement defending the KMT’s authoritarian rule during a rally attended by thousands of veteran soldiers at Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall in Taipei on Sunday to commemorate the dead dictator’s birthday yesterday.

“Without the Martial Law period, we wouldn’t have democracy today, without the Martial Law period, we wouldn’t be able to enjoy the freedom we have today,” Hau told the crowd, adding that many people these days have misinterpreted history and are making “unjust” assessments of Chiang’s rule.

He went on to say that the Martial Law era had been necessary because the KMT had lost the Chinese Civil War against the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).

“There were communist spies everywhere in Taiwan, so we certainly had to take harsh measures to protect Taiwan from the Chinese communists,” he said.

Hau said that without Chiang and his “harsh measures,” Taiwan would have been taken over by the CCP in 1949, and would not be able to enjoy freedom and democracy today.

Several human rights groups — including the Taiwan Association for Human Rights, the Taiwan Association for Truth and Reconciliation, the Dr Chen Wen-chen Memorial Foundation, the Deng Liberty Foundation, the Taiwan Alliance to End the Death Penalty, the Humanistic Education Foundation and the Taiwan Labor Front — released a joint statement denouncing Hau and his remarks.

In the joint statement, the groups said that during the 38-year Martial Law period from 1949 to 1987, Taiwanese were deprived of such basic rights as the freedoms of expression and assembly.

According to the Compensation Foundation for Improper Verdicts during the Martial Law era — a semi-official organization in charge of compensating political victims and their families, as many as 7,000 political cases have been approved and granted compensation, including almost 800 death sentences.

“The comments [that Hau made] were absurd — his praising of the Martial Law period is as bad as praising the criminal acts of Nazi Germany,” the statement said.

“We condemn such regressive remarks, and demand that Mr Hau, as well as the KMT, apologize to political victims, their families and the general public for their repeated absurd remarks,” the statement said.