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Protesters call for demolition of Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall

10/30/2023 11:45 PM
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CNA photo Oct. 30, 2023
CNA photo Oct. 30, 2023

Taipei, Oct. 30 (CNA) Dozens of protesters gathered in front of the National Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall in Taipei on Monday demanding the building's demolition, insisting its existence hinders progress towards transitional justice.

The group, including relatives of political victims and members of three nongovernmental organizations, staged the protest one day before the birthday of the late president of the Republic of China (Taiwan).

Holding a banner that read "Taiwan does not need a Dictator Memorial Hall," the protesters argued that reconciliation is impossible when the gigantic building is allowed to remain as it is.

"As long as the Chung-cheng Temple (Chiang's memorial hall) is not torn down, [transitional justice] is by far not enough," said Tsai Yu-an (蔡喻安), president of the Taiwan Youth Association for Transitional Justice and Kiōng-Seng.

According to the protesters, the current site of the memorial hall should be turned into a place for recreation, entertainment and art.

Among the protesters was Tsai Kuan-yu (蔡寬裕), a 90-year-old victim of political persecution.

Tsai is one of a handful of surviving political victims of the "White Terror," the period of political repression by the Kuomintang (KMT) government headed by Chiang during martial law from 1949 to 1987 that led to the disappearances and deaths of tens of thousands of people.

Chiang is blamed by some victims' families as personally ordering the execution of political prisoners, even when courts did not issue a death sentence.

Tsai Kuan-yu said although more than 30 years have passed since authoritarian rule ended in Taiwan, many people in this country still admire the victimizers.

In his opinion, the government should amend the Organization Act of National Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Management Office, and change the use of that building.

CNA photo Oct. 30, 2023
CNA photo Oct. 30, 2023

Also during the demonstration, many protesters wore black tops with a slogan questioning the propriety of Taiwan's style of execution by shooting while hanging pictures of political victims in front of their chest.

A similar protest was staged 15 years ago by the late magazine publisher Tsai Kun-lin (蔡焜霖), who died in early September at the age of 92, according to Chou Wan-yao (周婉窈), a National Taiwan University professor who specializes in Taiwanese history.

In 2008, Tsai Kun-lin, a victim who survived Taiwan's "White Terror" period, hung the photos of Chen Wen-chen and other political victims to promote the public's awareness of how significant transitional justice is, Chou said.

Tsai Kun-lin is dead, but the changes he expected of the National Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall still seems nowhere in sight, said Chou.

Nonetheless, Chou pointed out that people have inherited his spirit.

The other two organizations attending the activity were Dr. Chen Wen-chen Memorial Foundation and New Taiwan Peace Foundation.

(By Chen Yu-ting and Chao Yen-hsiang)

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