An Exhibition on International Concern for Taiwanese Political Prisoners (1960-1992)
Dec.10th 2020- May 2nd 2021
1947, the 228 Massacre took place, with many Taiwanese killed or sentenced without any trial. According to the Executive Yuan’s research report on the 228 Massacre, between 10,000 and 20,000 people were killed by state violence. During the White Terror that began from 1949, political dissidents were arrested, leading tens of thousands more to become political prisoners, with more than one thousand people executed. Taiwan was forced to keep silent during the martial law period, with few willing to express support for political prisoners or their families.
This continued up until the 1960s, with the formation of overseas Taiwanese political organizations such as the Taiwan Youth Society and its publication, “Taiwan Youth,” and when political support work began. Because the Cold War was in its early stages, the American government and the western world it led backed dictatorial regimes in the name of anti- Communism.
It was under these circumstances that visitors from the international world came to Taiwan and saw with their own eyes the dictatorial regime that talk of “free China” covered over. Because of the oppression of democratic freedoms, it was hard to shed light on these political issues.
As a result, holding onto their belief in human rights or religion, combined with the anti-war ideology set off by the Vietnam War, various human rights workers began to one after another take on the work of freeing political prisoners in Taiwan. Overseas Taiwanese groups built bridges with international human rights organizations, forming transnational networks from fragmentary origins, in order to provide a lifeline to desperate political prisoners.
This exhibition will proceed by chronological order, introducing the political prisoner cases in Taiwan during the white terror period of time, and those groups or individuals that participated in activities to aid them, and the influence they were able to exert. In pursuing democracy and human rights, their blood and tears were able to realize the democratic freedoms that Taiwan currently enjoys, even if it was not easy.
Although Taiwan no longer has political prisoners today, there are still a few Taiwanese are imprisoned abroad on senseless grounds, and must call on international society for help. In observing the democratic crisis currently faced today, examining the history of “Free Taiwan” can allow for this flame to be passed on, including those that searched for democracy in other places.