Nothing can stand in the way of bid for justice

Nothing can stand in the way of bid for justice

The reason transitional justice is such a complicated undertaking is that the one-party state committed such an array of crimes.

As time passes and democratization progresses, Taiwanese of the new era stand with both feet on Taiwanese soil and identify with the values of constitutional democracy.

They have come to transcend differences in historical perspective, political position and ethnic identity, and now reflect on and address the mistakes of the one-party state from the vantage point of humanitarianism, human rights, justice and fairness.

In the Jan. 11 presidential and legislative elections, they blocked extreme conservatism and the restoration of the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) to power, allowing the incumbent pro-Taiwan administration to continue.

In doing so, they removed the main political obstacle hindering President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文): She can focus her efforts on implementing transitional justice, let the perpetrators and their order be judged by history, and bring justice to the victims and the nation.

The rehabilitation of 228 Incident victims focuses on the government’s illegal behavior and its responsibilities. It cannot be denied that the 228 Incident involved hooligans who took the chance to stir things up and persecute Mainlanders, but most of these thugs were punished for their crimes when resistance was quashed by the army and during the Martial Law era.

However, the goal of the authoritarian regime’s rule of terror was to provide long-term protection for a one-party state and its consolidation, suppression by the military and police, and the plundering of innocent people. This is what lies at the bottom of the 228 Incident and White Terror era — and this is the reason the rehabilitation of individual cases needs to continue and why these victims must never be forgotten.

The Transitional Justice Committee has encountered many obstacles during its investigation of political archives.

When the archives were first turned over to the committee, the original agencies extended the declassification dates.

The Lin I-hsiung (林義雄) family murders, the death of Chen Wen-chen (陳文成), the murder of writer Henry Liu (劉宜良) — better known by his pen-name Jiang Nan (江南) — the Formosa Incident and other incidents are major injustices of paramount importance. They are a test of Tsai’s determination and a test case for the National Security Bureau.

The public knows that classification involves the internal dark traditions of the one-party state and its terror mechanisms, which placed its spies’ rules above national laws.

In the democratic era, there is no reason why state documents more than 30 years old should not be brought into the light for all to see — unless there is a legal reason or because of the principle of proportionality.

Using major cases to set precedents is often the only way for members of the public to be exonerated. Taiwanese must not worry that a pursuit of truth and reconciliation would destroy national unity. The surviving lackeys of the one-party state, who refuse to repent, are the ones destroying national unity.

This month, the National Security Bureau’s actions will reveal which departments and which officials are public enemies — Taiwan’s history, ethnic reconciliation and national revival cannot be held hostage.

Tseng Chien-yuan is vice president of the Northern Taiwan Society and an adjunct associate professor in National Central University’s department of Hakka language and social sciences.

Translated by Perry Svensson


英文台北時報(Taipei Times)