Two weeks ago, I visited Taipei Jingmei Human Rights Memorial Park again. That was a warm autumn day with 30℃. The sunshine only faded away when I was leaving in a taxi with my comrades. The cold was coming back again in the previous detention center.
Jingmei Human Right Memorial Park, once an infamous prison for political dissenters. However, people have short memories, especially in memorizing other agonies.
When asked about the white terror which had occupied Taiwan after second World War, taxi driver told my comrade, “ that was long time ago, why bother to mention it?”
“Is it?” my comrade could only reply the taxi driver with a subtle question.
The prison, rarely have been a foreign visitors’ place. Taiwanese tried to distance themselves from there as far as they could in the white terror age. Its former name was Jingmei Military Law Detention Center. In the martial law period, whoever was suspected by authorities that had committed treason against the state, would be arrested and prosecuted under the Military Law.
It sounds familiar to Malaysian. The detention center reminds us the Kamunting detention camp. Likewise, Taiwan had once governed by martial law for few decade long.
The detention center was one of the important scenes of Formosa Incident. A lot of Taiwanese opposition leaders had stayed in the detention center after arresting. For instances, Chen Chu, who is the mayor of Kaohsiung Metropolis, Annette Lu, the first female deputy president from DPP, Shih Ming-te, who lead the million “red army” opposing the corrupted president Chen Tsui-bian in 2007. Moreover, these 3 vocal leaders had stayed in a same cell but in different period.
The wall in that specific cell room is covered by few inch thick sponge to prevent suicide.
In fact, I was first visiting this detention center back in 2007. My friends and I stepped into the detention camp in a gloomy winter day. Few former detainees were sitting at the entrance. The old men told us every detail of the prison, including their life in Jingmei Military Law Detention Center.
They told visitors their story not because of hatred against the then ruling party, they merely wanted to remind the next generation or outsiders that we must learn from the lessons, we must uphold the basic principal as liberty, human rights.
I met an old lady at the detention center in my second visit. She was a former detainee as well. Likewise, she told her own story without hatred. She could even tell visitors in a smiling face on how silly she cried in the court room when her decisive trial was on going in the military court half a century ago.
The past is passed, we must look forward, but not forgetting the past. We must learn the lessons. The history would repeat itself and the regime which hasn’t learned anything from it would pay the price.
We do have the stories to tell. In the half century long history of Malaysia, we have too many lives lost in no reason. People lost even their lives in government institutions. Ahmad Sarbani, Teoh Beng Hock and countless detainees in police stations.
The past hasn’t passed. We are repeating the history as the BN government has never learned history.