Monument without historical awareness – 台北時報 | CarTailz

  • By Huang Hui-chun 黃惠君

The Jing-Mei White Terror Memorial Park recently announced that expansion and repair work on the National Human Rights Museum (國家人權博物館) would be halted, while the entrance signs, designed in 2006 by former Cultural Affairs Council Chairman Chiu Kun-liang (邱坤良), have been completed. , and the memorial with the names of the victims added during the tenure of former culture minister Lung Ying-tai (龍應台) are to be removed. Because the offices of the former Taiwanese prosecutor are to be restored. I was stunned to hear this.

Since when is a government office more valuable than an entrance sign symbolizing the infighting resulting from martial law, and more important than a memorial inscribed with the names of the victims?

The management of the museum is apparently acting in accordance with the demand for “complete preservation of monuments” on the site. Because the office was once a Taiwan Garrison Command detention center, it has been designated as part of Memorial Park. After the demolition of one of the detention centers at Qingdao E Rd 3, now the Sheraton Grand Taipei Hotel, the office became the only remaining place where political prisoners were arrested, detained, tried, and imprisoned. It is indelibly marked by the bravery of those who are willing to resist the authoritarian regime and who are not afraid of imprisonment, with the most prominent case being the Kaohsiung Incident Trials.

But plans for the memorial began to fall through when the office became part of the National Human Rights Museum. During the tenure of former culture minister Cheng Li-chiun (鄭麗君), many sites were designated “historical sites,” though some did not warrant the title.

Although there are no set rules for deciding whether the Taiwan Garrison Command offices should be demolished, they are slated to be preserved on the same level as the detention center at Qingdao E Rd 3, a location most notorious with the blood of political prisoner is stained. The authoritarian regime’s documents have not been fully declassified by the government, but the offices of the Taiwan Garrison Command must be preserved before the truth about their history comes out. What is this “transitional justice”?

A site once used by the Department of Defense for vehicle maintenance has also been designated a “Historic Site.” Originally it was decided to demolish it, but since it has been listed as a historical monument, the construction plan has changed: The museum is to be located next to the site of the car repair battalion. Since when can a vehicle service location be a historical site of injustice?

The absurdities don’t end here. A sign of the National Human Rights Museum was placed above the gate of the Auto Repair Battalion. According to the Ministry of Culture’s investigation, if this was the gate of the then Taiwan Garrison Command (a historical site), a “Taiwan Garrison Command” sign should have been placed there. This corresponds to the principle of monument preservation. Guards are posted near the entrance to the museum, which is highly inappropriate. The museum depicts the struggle against the authoritarian regime, while sentries are characteristic of the martial law period.

The discrepancy between the outside (sentinels) and the inside (National Human Rights Museum) became apparent in the call for the preservation of sites associated with the authoritarian regime. Some argue that the National Human Rights Museum could be moved closer to the Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall to commemorate past wrongs.

However, the design of the Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall is similar to that of the Ming Dingling – Beijing’s mausoleum of the Wanli Emperor (萬曆) – and the Ming Changling – Beijing’s mausoleum of the Yongle Emperor (永樂). In a democratic country like Taiwan, that’s embarrassing.

The existence of the Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall defies transitional justice, but its repurposing as the National Human Rights Museum is far from appropriate. The discrepancy between the outside, an emperor’s mausoleum, and the inside, the struggle and sacrifice for human rights, would be too obvious. Had a human rights museum, a symbol of democracy, been set up in an emperor’s mausoleum – a symbol of feudalism – the world would have laughed at Taiwan.

The core of the White Terror Memorial Park is designed to chronicle the suffering of political prisoners and their loss of freedom while incarcerated. Since the offices of the Taiwan Garrison Command are preserved in the name of “complete historical preservation,” the memorial purpose of Jing-Mei White Terror Memorial Park has moved away from its original purpose. Administrators need to get back to the drawing board.

Huang Hui-chun is a historian and curator.

Translated by Liu Yi-hung

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