Agencies involved in the detention, interrogation, torture, coercion, prosecution, trials, and internment of political dissidents during the White Terror period can be found all over Taiwan, including on the islands of Kinmen, Matsu and Penghu. These sites were witnesses to the major historical traumas undergone by Taiwan in its development of human rights. However, some of these sites have already started to fade from people’s memories, either due to the passing of time or because they have yet to be identified.
Database of Historical Sites of Injustice
“Historical Sites of Injustice” refers to historical sites where the state carried out various “acts of injustice,” using illegitimate means and institutes to systematically violate human rights. These historical sites include places where the state formulated and implemented such policies and issued commands. They also include the operation bases of special units of the military and police forces, places where “political prisoners” were arrested or where “political cases” first took place (or important sites in these cases), and sites involved in follow-up actions such as interrogation, torture, prosecution, imprisonment, punishment, execution, and burial. In a wider sense, “Historical Sites of Injustice” can also include other sites that act as vessels for the painful memories of the people.
We hope that by investigating, listing and studying these “Historical Sites of Injustice,” we can gradually construct the ways in which the state methodically inflicted violence on political dissidents during the period of martial law, as well as learn about these acts of “Injustice” and how they came to be. By establishing a connection between these sites, we hope that we can spur the public to learn more about history and rebuild a collective historical memory.
Step-by-step research and open access
In 2017, The National Human Rights Museum completed its preliminary investigation and research on Historical Sites of Injustice from the White Terror period. From 2017 to 2018, the museum organized the “Taiwan, Island of Prisons: Historical Sites of Injustice from the White Terror Period” exhibition in conjunction with the 30th anniversary of the lifting of martial law in Taiwan. This traveling exhibition made stops in Kaohsiung, Taichung, Penghu, Taitung (Green Island White Terror Memorial Park), Taoyuan, Tainan, Keelung, and New Taipei City (Jing-Mei White Terror Memorial Park), and was positively received. After the exhibition, the committee reviewed the feedback collected and returned to the task of taking stock, collecting, and sorting through the 41 Historical Sites of Injustice and commissioned the establishment of the “Database of Historical Sites of Injustice.” The database was put online for public access on February 28, 2019. The museum will continue to work on research into Historical Sites of Injustice in order to fill in the gaps in the current knowledge of these sites, in the hope of reconstructing the historical memory of the Taiwanese people.