To mark World Human Rights Day 2018 on Dec. 9, the National Human Rights Museum and the Transitional Justice Commission held a second ceremony expunging the criminal records of injustice victims persecuted during the White Terror. This follows the first-ever restoration of honor ceremony that was held on Oct. 5 to denote the nation's firm conviction in promoting transitional justice and reconciliation.
At the ceremony, Vice President Chen Chien-jen (陳建仁) symbolically cut the barbed-wire covering on a scroll, and Yang Tsui (楊翠), acting chairwoman of the Transitional Justice Commission, led two children in unrolling the scroll that held the names of 1,505 victims who suffered injustice. The symbolic act served as a formal declaration for wiping away the stains of unlawful judgement.
"You have been kept waiting for such a long time," said Vice President Chen. Meeting over 250 victims of political persecution and their members at the ceremony, he reaffirmed the compassionate remarks regarding delayed justice made by President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) on Oct. 5.
"For a long time, White Terror was a taboo topic among aboriginal communities. In the 1950s, they experienced large-scale arrests, and some were even killed. Surviving family members became victims of gossip and slander, and many were exiled and forsaken," he explained.
Vice President Chen pointed out that, among the second group of victims whose criminal records are now expunged, there were 27 people of indigenous heritage. Noting that some descendants of the victims have tried various ways to restore the honor of their elders, he avowed that "we shall not let their names disappear once more."
He added that the Transitional Justice Commission and the National Human Rights Museum were established this year to uncover the truth of the nation's painful past, identify those responsible for wrongful persecution, promote social reconciliation, and work towards a common future for Taiwan that can be shared by all.
"Taiwan is now embarking upon a path of new milestones for human rights," the Vice President said, "by wiping away the injustice suffered by indigenous peoples, female political victims, and others who were wrongly convicted, and clearing their names."
He stressed the importance of "letting the world understand that Taiwan is a country where justice prevails." To promote transitional justice, injustice should be redressed, historical truth must be uncovered, human rights education must be implemented, wounds must be healed, and democracy and freedom must be safeguarded, said the Vice President, "so that Taiwan becomes the beacon of human rights in Asia."
To commemorate World Human Rights Day and the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights this year, the National Human Rights Museum is also holding a series of events encompassing forums, children's theater, and an exhibition on the visual identity of negative heritage sites.