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Taiwan can learn from Israel, Germany on transitional justice: VP

2019/01/27 19:20:13

Taipei, Jan. 27 (CNA) Taiwan has much to learn from Israel and Germany on how they commemorate the Holocaust as it embarks on the path of transitional justice, Vice President Chen Chien-jen (陳建仁) said Sunday at an International Holocaust Remembrance Day ceremony in Taipei.

Chen said Jan. 27 was designated by the United Nations on 2005 as Holocaust Remembrance Day in memory of the day in 1945 when prisoners in the concentration camp at Auschwitz were liberated.

Calling the history of genocide by the Nazi regime as "the darkest chapter in human history," the vice president said about 6 million Jews lost their lives, and more than a million Roma and Slavs, disabled individuals, homosexuals and dissidents were also murdered as part of the genocide campaign.

As Taiwan is now pursuing transitional justice, it has much to learn from both Israel and Germany in this area, Chen said.

"From Israel, we can learn how to transform past suffering into educational resources to inspire tolerance and grace," he said.

"From Germany, we can learn how to come to terms with the darkest chapters in our history and find the courage and determination to expose historical facts."

As part of its transitional justice efforts, Taiwan has established a holocaust museum in Tainan, the second such memorial in Asia, and a National Human Rights Museum, which was opened in May 2018.

Through oral histories, visual records, or historical objects and buildings, Chen expressed the hope that Taiwanese can understand the development of human rights in the country and the government's determination to protect such rights.

"We must constantly tell ourselves not to repeat the mistakes of the past. We must stand together, united as one," he said.

Sunday's ceremony, held for the fourth consecutive year, was jointly organized by the representative offices of Israel and Germany in Taipei.

In their respective addresses, the top envoys of Israel and Germany in Taiwan praised Taiwan for joining the world's democracies in holding a holocaust remembrance event.

Thomas Prinz, German representative to Taiwan, said that as more and more Holocaust survivors pass away, it is important for democracies around the globe to build a bridge to pass the lesson of history to the younger generation.

"Taiwan's commemoration of (the event) for the fourth consecutive time proves its willingness to build this bridge," he said, praising Taiwan's democracy as a role model for upholding human rights in the region.

Israel's representative to Taiwan Asher Yarden said Taiwan's participation in the annual event since 2016 proves its respect for human rights, democratic values, and its willingness to learn from past history.

He quoted late philosopher George Santayana's famous line, "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it," to encourage more people to join Holocaust memorial events.

Taiwan has carried out a transitional justice campaign since President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) took office in May 2016.

Her administration has sought to pursue justice for injustices committed during the Martial Law period from 1949 to 1987, a time of political persecution when Kuomintang (KMT) governments were in power.

(By Joseph Yeh)
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