White Terror Memorial

China in the 21st CenturyCreated by Ted Mitchell

White Terror Memorial in Taipei, Taiwan
White Terror Memorial in Taipei, Taiwan

White Terror Memorial Slideshow

White Terror Memorial Photo Gallery (Downloadable Pictures)

A memorial was inaugurated in Taipei yesterday to commemorate victims of the White Terror era, a chapter in Taiwan's history that participants at the ceremony yesterday said still raised unanswered questions today.
The White Terror era loosely refers to the period of political persecution that began when dictator Chiang Kai-shek (蔣介石) of the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) declared martial law in 1949.
"It's unfortunate that the KMT will be back in power again when there are still many unanswered crimes of the White Terror," said writer Yang Chin-chu (楊青矗), who was arrested in connection with the Kaohsiung Incident of 1979, a pro-democracy demonstration.
Yang made the remarks at the opening ceremony of the monument erected at the Jieshou Park (介壽公園), located on the right front side of the Presidential Office Building.
The location bore two meanings -- it symbolizes people's resistance to authority as "Jieshou" means "wishing longevity to Chiang [Kai-shek]," and it also serves as a remainder to the leadership that the "White Terror should never happen again," Yang said.
During the more than 40-year White Terror era, roughly coinciding with the martial law period, about 200,000 people were imprisoned or executed for opposition to the KMT regime, according to a report released by the outgoing Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) government last year.
"Not only [do we] wish to seek out historical truth and determine responsibility, what's more, we hope to keep in mind the lessons so that whoever governs in the future will not repeat the mistakes of the past," the inscription on the monument reads. "The erection of this monument is therefore our prayer that hereafter Taiwan will become a democratic and free country honoring human rights and justice."
Since a compensation foundation was established in 1998, 8,462 victims' families had submitted applications for indemnification, out of which 6,808 cases have been approved and NT$18.7 billion in compensation has been issued.
The foundation has so far issued certificates restoring the reputations of 3,543 victims.
"Granting compensation, restoring reputation and setting up a monument are ways to rebuild society ... But only by investigating the cause of deaths and restoring the [nation's] true history can the country learn lessons and avoid the occurrence of such tragedy," President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) said in his speech.
Chen also called on the public to pray for Tibetans under China's violent suppression.
"Facing the monument in the other direction is the Liberty Square, where a group of people have gathered for two weeks praying for Tibet ... Everyone should come forward to urge China to renounce violence and start a peaceful dialogue with Tibet," he said.
Vice President Annette Lu (呂秀蓮) urged human rights experts to look into who was responsible for the many crimes of political persecution in the White Terror era that remain unsolved.
Lu said she once suggested the government make public the names of KMT officials, prosecutors and judges that handled political cases, but the DPP didn't dare do that because it was "too kind."
"It would be ironic if the perpetrators, who were either directly or indirectly involved in the political persecution, come into power with the new [KMT] government," Lu said.
(Taipei Times 2008)