TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — The Taiwan Transitional Justice Database was launched on the eve of the 73rd anniversary of the country's biggest uprising against corruption — the Feb. 28 massacre (2/28 Incident), making details about both the victims and the accomplices public.
Transitional Justice Commission spokeswoman Yeh Hung-ling (葉虹靈) called the database a preliminary step for transitional justice that allows people to access files online and unearth the truth kept in the dark during the martial law period and afterward: "[Until now] people could get close to history only from victims' oral or spoken accounts of the event, academic research, and digging up files from the National Archives Administration, but from today, the online database will make the job easier."
"Through the online database, people can discover names, professions, years of birth, photos, and other details about the victims erroneously brought to military tribunals without due process under Chiang Kai-shek's authoritarian rule, while at the same time, it reveals information about those who took part in the persecutions and what they did," Yeh added.
The National Human Rights Museum and the National Archives Administration made huge contributions by sharing 410,000 pages of military tribunal documents with the team as it built the database, offering a truthful take on the incident.
The commission said the number of victims of the White Terror, the decades-long period following the 2/28 Incident that saw the suppression of political dissidents by the then-Chinese Nationalist Party (Kuomintang), exceeded 18,000. It will continue to gather information on some 8,000 yet to be included in the database.
After Taiwan came under the control of the Kuomintang in 1945, the island subsequently underwent hyperinflation, poverty, and several deadly epidemics. Later, in 1947, some Taiwanese rebeled in response to the government's corrupt bureaucratic rule, in addition to ethnic conflict that turned violent after the occupation began.
A brutal repression ensued, with tens of thousands of intellectuals, social elites, and dissidents believed to have been secretly tried, jailed, or murdered. Famous figures who participated in the political terrorism included secret agent-turned businessman Lin Ting-li (林頂立), who headed the now-defunct Secrets Bureau, and Hsu Teh-hui (許德輝), an undercover agent working for the intelligence unit.