Civil society groups petition for removal of Chiang Kai-shek statue

Civil society groups on Tuesday called for the removal of a 6.3-meter statue from Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall in what they described as a key move to promote the work of transitional justice in Taiwan.

More than 400 human rights and other civil society groups signed the "petition" for the removal of the bronze statue in the main chamber of the memorial hall building, Chou Wan-yao (???), a history professor at National Taiwan University, said at a news conference.

According to Chou, the "petition" seeks to show support for an initial plan put forth by the Transitional Justice Commission (TJC) in September to remove what it designated "symbols of authoritarianism" at the memorial hall.

The TJC plan aims to turn the site into a public park with "reflections on Taiwan's authoritarian history" as its main theme.

In order to achieve that goal, the bronze statue of Chiang, the late president of the Republic of China (Taiwan) will be removed and renovations be made to eliminate authoritarian elements in the design of the hall, according to the plan.

The TJC said at the time that a more detailed proposal, including an amendment to the Organization Act of National Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Management Office, would be submitted to the Cabinet in May next year.

At the press conference, Chou said Chiang ordered the execution of 259 political prisoners who had originally been handed jail terms following military trials during the White Terror period, citing a TJC report released in February.

She argued that the issue regarding the removal of the bronze statue, which remains the biggest authoritarian statue in Taiwan, must be addressed in order to achieve the goal of transitional justice and consolidate human rights and the rule of law in the country.

In addition to the statue, the groups also called for the changing of the guard ceremony which takes place on a regular basis in the main chamber to be ended or moved outside the main building, so it no longer reflects the act of worshiping Chiang.

Cherry Ho (???), secretary-general of the grassroots political group, Taiwan Obasan Political Equality Party, commented that in a democratic society, no politician or political leader should be worshiped like a hero.

Removing objects that carry authoritarian imagery is a key for strengthening democracy, Ho said, adding that "how history is documented and presented to our children reflects the values we believe in."

Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel