Declassifying files helpful for transitional justice: commission

04/13/2019 08:39 PM
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Former DPP Chairman Lin Yi-hsiung attends a memorial service in 2018 to remember his deceased mother and twin daughters (CNA file photo)
Former DPP Chairman Lin Yi-hsiung attends a memorial service in 2018 to remember his deceased mother and twin daughters (CNA file photo)

Taipei, April 13 (CNA) The Transitional Justice Commission (TJC) said Saturday that it expects that efforts to declassify secret files concerning several major political cases will help the commission's investigation and come up with facts in a bid to push for transitional justice.

The major political cases eyed by the TJC include the murders of members of former Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Chairman Lin Yi-hsiung's (林義雄) family, according to the commission.

On Friday, Presidential Office Secretary-General Chen Chu (陳菊) said on her Facebook page that President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) has instructed her and National Security Council (NSC) Secretary-General David Lee (李大維) to call a meeting for a possible declassification of political files related to the cases, at a time when Taiwan society is eager to know the facts.

According to the TJC, the National Archives Administration has made several attempts since 2000 to collect files concerning these cases but to no avail, and their existence was only discovered following the passage of the Act on Promoting Transitional Justice in 2017.

Due to differing legal interpretations between various government agencies, however, access to the files remains difficult, the commission said.

As it is currently renewing an investigation into the cases, the commission expressed hope that the files can be declassified as soon as possible to help clear up the facts and bring justice for the victims and their families.

In her Facebook post, Chen said the government is trying hard to push for transitional justice and is determined to uncover Taiwan's political history.

Through these efforts in transitional justice, Chen said, Taiwan is expected to see democracy strengthening and society stepping toward harmony.

Among the major cases targeted is the Lin family massacre that occurred Feb. 28, 1980, when Lin's mother and 7-year-old twin daughters were stabbed to death shortly after Lin led a pro-democracy protest against the authoritarian Kuomintang (KMT) regime of that era, according to the TJC.

The murders remain unsolved.

Before the Lin family murders, there was also the Kaohsiung Incident that took place Dec. 10, 1979, when former DPP Chairman Huang Shin-chieh (黃信介) and other opposition politicians held a demonstration commemorating Human Rights Day to demand democracy in Taiwan.

At that time, the then-ruling KMT government seized on this protest as an excuse to arrest several heavyweights of the opposition party, including Huang, after serious clashes between protesters and police.

The third case refers to the death of former Carnegie Mellon University assistant professor Chen Wen-chen (陳文成), who returned to Taiwan to visit his relatives and friends in May 1981.

The Taiwan-born Chen was questioned by police July 2 that year for his involvement in financial assistance to Formosa Magazine. On July 3, Chen was found dead near a library at National Taiwan University (NTU) but the cause of death remained unclear.

The fourth case took place in 1972, when 13 NTU professors, including outspoken Chen Ku-ying (陳鼓應) and Wang Hsiao-po (王曉波), were suspended for their criticism of the political and social situation.

In 1993, NTU formed a special committee to give compensation to the affected professors, saying that the incident was caused by inappropriate political intervention.

(By Yu Hsiang and Frances Huang)


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