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Tsai pledges promotion of transitional justice to continue

12/09/2023 05:04 PM
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President Tsai Ing-wen delivers a speech marking Human Rights Day, observed annually on Dec. 10, at the Jing-Mei White Terror Memorial Park in New Taipei on Saturday. CNA photo Dec. 9, 2023
President Tsai Ing-wen delivers a speech marking Human Rights Day, observed annually on Dec. 10, at the Jing-Mei White Terror Memorial Park in New Taipei on Saturday. CNA photo Dec. 9, 2023

New Taipei, Dec. 9 (CNA) The government remains "steadfast" in facilitating transitional justice in Taiwan and dedicated to preserving the stories of those persecuted during the White Terror era, President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) said Saturday.

"On the path of [promoting] transitional justice, we will remain steadfast," Tsai told an event marking Human Rights Day, observed annually on Dec. 10, at the Jing-Mei White Terror Memorial Park in New Taipei.

Such efforts, especially to raise public awareness of what happened in the past, will foster a freer and more equitable society where the values of democracy and human rights are protected, said Tsai, who will leave office in May 2024 after completing her second four-year term.

Transitional justice has been one of the issues of interest to the Tsai administration as part of a broader effort to promote human rights since it took power in May 2016.

Its first step to push transitional justice came in December 2017, when the Act on Promoting Transitional Justice was promulgated.

Efforts to carry out transitional justice have included investigating cases in which people during the White Terror period from 1949-1992 were politically persecuted and determining whether they should be exonerated and/or compensated.

The government has also preserved sites where state wrongdoings took place, such as the Jing-Mei White Terror Memorial Park, which used to be a detention center, as well as promoted White Terror history through school education and cultural events.

These efforts, Tsai said, have been aimed at exposing the public to the harm inflicted by the authoritarian regime on society and consolidating democracy and the rule of law in Taiwan.

She said the government had since January confirmed 1,829 claims of compensation by White Terror victims, awarding damages of over NT$3 billion (US$95.47 million) in total.

Many of those cases were processed by the Transitional Justice Commission, which was not authorized by law to award compensation, and then handed over to a foundation created in January to restore the rights of victims of authoritarian rule.

Retired businessman and former political prisoner Yang Kuo-yu (楊國宇) urged the government, meanwhile, to step up efforts to educate young people about the country's authoritarian past and preserve historical sites of injustice.

The 91-year-old also called for the continued pursuit of the truth about what had happened during the White Terror period.

According to government data, Yang was sentenced to 10 years in prison in 1950 at the age of 18, after being falsely accused of "taking part in rebellious groups."

Following his release in 1960, Yang started working in textiles and gradually worked his way up in the industry before crossing over to other businesses, such as pharmaceuticals and biotechnology.

He was exonerated earlier this year.

Yang was among the former political prisoners recognized at Saturday's event for making donations to the National Human Rights Museum.

He provided a violin that had accompanied him throughout his difficult times in the prison on Green Island for display at the memorial park.

(By Teng Pei-ju)

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