Secret files about victims of suspected political murders in Taiwan could be unsealed

New rules approved by the Legislative Yuan could declassify Lin Yi-hsiung and Chen Wen-chen files

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Former DPP Chairman Lin Yi-hsiung at a commemorative event for his murdered relatives.

Former DPP Chairman Lin Yi-hsiung at a commemorative event for his murdered relatives. (CNA photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – Files about suspected political murders during the Kuomintang’s (KMT) Martial Law era might be declassified, following the approval of new regulations by the Legislative Yuan Thursday (July 4).

The National Security Bureau recently announced that it would slap a permanent confidentiality order on certain key files surrounding prominent cases, provoking a stream of protest from human rights activists.

According to the new measures, only the agreement of the National Security Council could allow such files to stay secret forever, the Central News Agency reported.

Just on Tuesday (July 2), activists marked the 38th anniversary of the death of U.S.-based mathematics professor Chen Wen-chen (陳文成), a supporter of democracy who was picked up by police and found dead on the campus of National Taiwan University the following day.

Another prominent case likely to be affected by the new regulations was the murder of then-political prisoner Lin Yi-hsiung’s (林義雄) mother and two daughters on February 28, 1980. Just like in the Chen case, the murderer was never found, while the KMT government denied any involvement.

The procedure for declassifying secret files will become simpler, with most files likely to be made public after a 30-year period, according to CNA.

The regulations also listed sanctions for organizations refusing to make secret files public or even destroying them. A prison sentence of up to five years would await such individuals, while fines of up to NT$5 million (US$160,000) would target organizations refusing to turn over political files to the government.