Taipei, March 18 (CNA) A memorial service was held in New Taipei on Saturday to commemorate the victims of the White Terror era, a period of political persecution in Taiwan that lasted from 1949 to 1987.
Over 100 victims and their families attended the event at the Jingmei Human Rights Memorial and Cultural Park, where a Buddhist priest chanted prayers to remember those who were persecuted during the White Terror period.
"We should be grateful to the contributions made by our persecuted political predecessors and their families and forever remember that they are the reason we can all participate in politics and enjoy 100 percent freedom of speech. They also remind us of the importance of carrying out human rights protection," Deputy Culture Minister Ting Hsiao-ching (丁曉菁) said at the event.
Ting said her ministry hopes to establish a human rights museum as soon as possible, as part of President Tsai Ing-wen's (蔡英文) plan to push for transitional justice.
She said that the Preparatory Office of the National Human Rights Museum under the Ministry of Culture has already formed an advisory committee to draft an Organic Law of the human rights museum, which will collect, study and exhibit human rights archives and artifacts from Taiwan's post-World War II authoritarian period.
Yeh Kuang-yi (葉光毅), son of a White Terror victim, said his father Yeh Sheng-chi (葉盛吉) was executed in 1950 at the age of 27, after joining the Communist Party to put his social ideals into action.
His father's death brought him feelings of grief, dejection and uncertainty, but his story should not be that of suffering and the shattering of dreams, but that of the human spirit and excellence, Yeh said.
He expressed hope that the public will place more emphasis on human life, human rights and civil issues and pursue transitional justice.
The White Terror refers to the suppression of political dissent in Taiwan following the 228 Incident, an anti-government uprising in 1947 that resulted in a subsequent brutal crackdown by the authoritarian regime of the then-ruling Kuomintang.
During the White Terror period, many people were killed and an estimated 140,000 to 200,000 people -- many of them intellectuals and Taiwan's social elite -- were imprisoned. The White Terror era lasted until the lifting of martial law in Taiwan in 1987.
(By Christie Chen)