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Photo expo commemorates lifting of martial law in 1987

A photo exhibition marking the 20th anniversary of the lifting of martial law in Taiwan kicked off yesterday at the Presidential Office.

Addressing the opening ceremony, President Chen Shui-bian recalled the process of Taiwan's democratic development from the proclamation of martial law in 1950 to its lifting in 1987.

The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) has persisted in pursuing democracy and progress since it came to power in 2000, Chen said, adding that the DPP will work harder to build Taiwan into a "normal, whole and beautiful" country.

Noting that the Presidential Office was once the top agency suppressing the pro-democracy movement during the period of martial law, Chen described viewing the exhibition of various pictures concerning the nation's democratic movement as a very touching event.

The president attributed today's democratic achievements to concerted efforts by all the people of Taiwan and spoke highly of press photographers for having risked their lives to take the precious pictures of various "unlawful" pro-democracy rallies during the period of martial law.

Following his speech, Chen led government officials and press photographers present at the ceremony in singing songs to recall street movement scenes during the period of martial law.

In the company of Vice President Annette Lu and Premier Chang Chun-hsiung, the president visited various invaluable pictures on display, which include one concerning a group of political dissidents surrounded by police while staging a sit-in on the courtyard of the Lungshan Temple in downtown Taipei in 1986 to force the ruling Kuomintang government to lift the martial law.

During the opening ceremony, Chen criticized Kuomintang presidential candidate Ma Ying-jeou's call to restore the Legislative Yuan's right to approve the president's appointment of the nation's premier.

Chen said that the Kuomintang had taken away the legislature's right to approve the premier during the 1990s with a constitutional amendment.

The president said that the Kuomintang should determine whether its move in the past was right or wrong before calling on the restoration of the legislature's right to approve the premier.

Chen further called on members of the Kuomintang to attend the photo exhibition and look at the photos depicting the DPP's democratic movement during and after martial law.

The photo exhibition will be open to the public until July 27 and will be moved to the Museum of History in the southern city of Kaohsiung Aug. 8-26.

The late President Chiang Ching-kuo lifted martial law July 15, 1987, several months before his death in January 1988, marking the end of 38 years of martial law in Taiwan.

The Executive Yuan has designated July 15 as "Commemoration Day of the Lifting of Martial Law" to help people gain a better understanding of Taiwan's democracy and cherish the country's hard-earned democracy.

As part of commemoration of the 20th anniversary of the lifting of martial law, Taiwan Post Co. issued Sunday a set of commemorative stamps observing liberation, freedom of speech, and the end of press censorship.

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