A total of 10,067 dossiers from the period of martial law on Taiwan known as White Terror have been preserved till today. Each represented life or death for 10,067 people and each verdict sealed an individual’s fate. To commemorate Human Rights Day, the first lot of verdicts on 232 political victims during the 1950s was made public on Dec. 10.
Such dossiers on political victims unjustly, falsely, or wrongly prosecuted for crimes of supporting foreign aggression and instigating rebellion were gathered by the Improper Martial Law Period Insurgency and Espionage Convictions Compensation Foundation (補償基金會). The foundation conducted investigation and compensation in its 15-year run, and the collection is the most complete set of historical data related to individual White Terror victims in the country.
The Ministry of Culture obtained the dossier collection in mid-September after the Compensation Foundation was disbanded, and has since been storing them in professional warehouses kept at monitored temperatures and humidity while studying the appropriate method of making these dossiers available to the public.
The Preparatory Office of the National Human Rights Museum under the Ministry of Culture has begun sorting the transferred dossiers, handling information that has to be concealed item by item in accordance with the Personal Information Protection Act, and comparing them case by case with the digitized files of the original verdicts preserved by the National Archives Administration.
The contents that will be concealed involve personal privacy information such as addresses, ID numbers, and blood types of the prosecuted. The work will be conducted according to the Archives Act, the Personal Information Protection Act, and The Freedom of Government Information Law.
Among the 10,067 dossiers are 2,102 digitized Microsoft Word files, including 1,270 verdicts in an easy-to-read format. Because the political victims are of advanced age, the Ministry of Culture has decided to make a part of the dossiers public while sorting out the others. The first lot of 232 digitized verdicts in Word format will be made available to those who apply for reading. Unlike the scanned picture files provided by the National Archives Administration (see Annex 1), the Word files released by the Ministry of Culture (see Annex 2) will be easier for all interested parties to study and share.
While sorting through the collection, the National Human Rights Museum is also making an all-out effort to interview the political victims. During the past two years, museum workers have gathered the oral histories of 250 political victims and their family members. The Ministry of Culture will place the official verdicts and the oral histories of the prosecuted side by side for people to cross-reference the opposing viewpoints of history.
The first lot of digitized verdicts is now available for people to apply for reading rights. Those who are interested can apply in accordance with the “Regulations Governing the Opening and Application of Verdicts in Transferred Compensation Dossiers” (移交補償卷宗判決書開放應用作業要點). The National Human Rights Museum will contact the applicant within 30 days after receiving a complete application.