Human Rights Memoriam Cultural Park
New Taipei City, Taiwan
Jing-Mei White Terror Memorial
The Memorial, Museum, and Cultural Park are located on the former site of the Jingmei Military Law Detention Center of the Taiwan Garrison Command. This was a prison where political prisoners were held, tried, sentenced, and imprisoned en masse during the "White Terror" Period.
In its broadest sense this term refers to the period beginning February 1947, which includes the martial law era which began in May 1949. Most historical accounts regard these two periods as ending together in mid-July 1987. Unfortunately, during these forty years, over 140,000 Taiwanese were imprisoned, and some 3,000 to 4,000 were executed for their real or perceived opposition to the government of the KMT ("Kuomintang" or "Chinese Nationalist Party") led by Chiang Kai-shek.
Taiwan’s Legal Status
A determination of Taiwan’s legal status has a direct bearing on how the forty years of White Terror should be viewed. A major premise of Chinese historical disinformation is that October 25, 1945 was "Taiwan Retrocession Day" and the territorial sovereignty of Taiwan was returned to China on this date. Based on this premise, Chinese scholars have always considered that the KMT’s actions during the so-called White Terror period, although harsh, still fall under the category of domestic law enforcement.
However, from the perspective of international law, and indeed from the perspective of US law, such an interpretation is in error. October 25, 1945, can only be interpreted as the beginning of the military occupation of Taiwan, and military occupation does not transfer sovereignty. Hence, there was no "Taiwan Retrocession Day." But more importantly, according to the Hague Conventions and Geneva Conventions, it must be recognized that there are many categories of activities which are forbidden in occupied territory. Most of these activities are referred to under the nomenclature of "war crimes."
Upon close scrutiny, it becomes clear that many actions of the KMT administration during the White Terror period were actually war crimes. Are most people in Taiwan aware of this fact? The answer is No, as this is rarely discussed.
US Government Involvement
The Taiwan people should urge US Senators and Congresspersons to call Hearings and do thorough investigations into Taiwan war crimes which began in the mid-1940s, as well as their after-effects which have continued up to the present day. The undertaking of such investigations can certainly be justified based on the "human rights clause" of the Taiwan Relations Act.