The Taipei Times reported on the tale of documents from the martial law era, including interrogations of independence activists, were simply dumped to rot in an abandoned government building....
Former victims of political persecution and the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) yesterday slammed the government for neglecting evidence relating to the White Terror period after interrogation records were found at an abandoned Ministry of Justice building.Kudos to the newspaper for bringing to light this important story. Apple Daily has pictures of the jars here. I have no picture at the top of this post, because nothing I have is appropriate for this story. Taiwan News reported the other day:
Yesterday’s Chinese-language Apple Daily reported that the documents, along with body parts in jars, had been left scattered at the Investigation Bureau’s abandoned Ankeng Guesthouse in Taipei County.
The guesthouse, once used as an office by the notorious Taiwan Garrison Command, was used to question dissidents and criminal suspects during the Martial Law era.
The Taiwan Garrison Command was a military state security agency during the Martial Law era from 1949 to 1992.
The newspaper printed photos taken inside the building of human body parts in glass jars. Both the newspaper and the government said the body parts belonged to homicide victims and were unrelated to politics.
The newspaper’s reporters were able to enter the derelict office and take photos of the documents and human remains.
Among the documents found inside were records of the interrogations of late DPP chairman Huang Hsin-chieh (黃信介); the late writer, human rights activist and one-time political prisoner Bo Yang (柏楊); and former national policy adviser Hsieh Tsung-min (謝聰敏), who was also once a political prisoner.
The DPP slammed the government for failing to preserve and disclose the documents.
“How can important documents that hold vital information about the White Terror era be discarded this way? We think someone should take responsibility for this,” DPP Legislator Wong Chin-chu (翁金珠) told a press conference.
At a separate setting, DPP Spokesman Cheng Wen-tsang (鄭文燦) said the National Archives Administration under the Research, Development and Evaluation Commission had asked the bureau to collect and clear all archives of documents from the White Terror era, but the bureau had clearly not complied.
“The Investigation Bureau violated the National Archives Act (國家檔案法) and its officials should be investigated,” Cheng said.
Hsieh said: “They [Taiwan Garrison Command officials] told me they conducted human experiments on a mountain in Jingmei [景美], but few people knew where it was. Most people were taken to the place blindfolded and few of them came back.”
Opposition lawmakers and human rights activists yesterday slammed the Ministry of Justice Investigation Bureau for dumping confidential files and body parts of deceased political prisoners incarcerated during the authoritarian period of Kuomintang rule in an abandoned building and demanded that the materials be promptly transferred to the National Archives Administration.Taiwan News observed in one of its hard-hitting editorials:
Acting on information from local residents, reporters for the vernacular "Apple Daily" found files on about 500 former detainees tossed like garbage in the abandoned Ankang Reception Center in Hsintien, Taipei County Tuesday evening.
Built in 1973, the innocently named "reception center" was initially controlled by the now defunct Taiwan Garrison Command's Military Law Department Ankang Detention Center and served as a location for the detention and joint interrogation, including torture, of "seditionists" by TGC military court prosecutors and the Investigation Bureau until the lifting of martial law in July 1987.
.....MJIB officials attempted to excuse their negligence and blatant violation of the 2002 National Archives Administration Law, which required the transfer of such documents to the National Archives Administration, by claiming that the data was "merely administrative."This week we had two uncomfortable reminders of mainlander power in Taiwan -- the Kuo Kuan-ying case, where a GIO official publicly revealed what many mainlanders feel privately -- that the Taiwanese are an inferior race -- and now this, this inept and unwitting time capsule into the torture-murder regime run by the Taiwan Garrison Command during the martial law era. Make no mistake -- martial law legitimated by the KMT regime's Return to
Such excuses are self-serving nonsense that only displays the contempt with which the MJIB views the efforts by the Taiwan people to rediscover the history of the victimization of tens of thousands of citizens, including many new immigrants from the China mainland, for actual or alleged "sedition" under the authoritarian KMT regime.
During its eight years in office, the DPP administration under former president Chen Shui-bian had been able to secure the declassification and transfer to the National Archives of considerable secret documentation on martial law cases held by the plethora of secret police, security and intelligence organizations under the KMT martial law regime, including the feared and now defunct Taiwan Garrison Command and the Investigation Bureau itself.
Much of this material included military court judgments against alleged "bandit communist agents," Taiwan independence advocates, liberal intellectuals, journalists or even errant MJIB or TGC agents or victims of internal KMT power struggles as well as extensive materials on the Feb. 28 massacre of 1947 and the KMT regime's crackdown on the "Formosa" democratic movement after the Kaohsiung Incident on Dec. 10, 1979.
However, such efforts were both inadequate and frustrated by the refusal of government agencies and the KMT itself to turn over "white terror" related files to the NAA for historical research or legal examination.
The exposure of the MJIB's tossing of such files as so much garbage into an abandoned interrogation center is stark proof of such deliberate obstruction.
Moreover, the MJIB's files also hint at the mountain of documentation and information on the "front-end" of the process of political persecution and human rights violations, namely surveillance, arrest and interrogation, including the use of torture to extract "confessions" that would be creatively rewritten by prosecutors into "the facts of the crimes" to be used for martial law judges to pass sentences of death or long imprisonment.
As Taiwan Association for Truth and Reconciliation Chairman Wu Nai-teh observed Wednesday, "Taiwan's modern history cannot be properly written" without the release of all such secret files still hoarded by the MJIB, the Ministry of National defense and many other government ministries and agencies and, last but not least, the KMT itself.
Even more urgent is our society's need to discover the victimizers as well as the victims and ensure that the persons who ordered wrongful arrests and executions and torture and other violations of human right and even crimes against humanity committed during the KMT authoritarian rule bear legal and moral responsibility.
"Transitional justice" is not a luxury or a process of vengeance but an essential process to face and heal past wounds and divisions in our society and to prevent the sowing of the seeds for further violations by state authorities of basic human rights by allowing those who ordered such actions to escape responsibility with impunity.
In sum, the acquisition of such files and the recovery of the full history of the "white terror" in Taiwan is vitally important for each and every Taiwan citizen because the process of truth and reconciliation is the best guarantee that no one, no matter what their political beliefs, will not become future victims of state violence or human rights violations.
Hence, we strongly urge President Ma Ying-jeou to demonstrate the political courage and will to order all government agencies and the KMT itself to turn over "228" or "white terror" related files from the martial law era to turn such documentation to the National Archives and an impartial investigation committee or, preferably, a legally grounded "truth and reconciliation" commission for the martial law period.
The exercise of leadership by the KMT government in transitional justice can help heal Taiwan's deep political divisions and assist the KMT improve its own image.
Otherwise, President Ma should explain to Taiwan's 23 million people why he and the KMT are unwilling or unable to fulfill this task.
[Taiwan] Don't miss the comments below! And check out my blog and its sidebars for events, links to previous posts and picture posts, and scores of links to other Taiwan blogs and forums!