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President Ma attends white terror memorial

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- President Ma Ying-jeou expressed the hope yesterday that there will never again be a tragedy in Taiwan similar to the white terror crackdowns that occurred about five decades ago.

The president made these remarks at a memorial ceremony for the victims of the crackdowns. The ceremony was sponsored by the Compensation Foundation for Improper Verdict and held at a park in front of the Presidential Office.

The ceremony opened with drumming and singing, which symbolized dialogue with the victims of the tragedy. After addresses by the president and representatives of the victims, the participants observed a moment of silence.

The president and the representatives of the victims also laid wreaths around the memorial.

Ma apologized to the victims and their family members on behalf of the government, and expressed the hope that Taiwan will never again experience a similar tragedy. The white terror generally refers to a crackdown on the advocates of Communism, Taiwan independence and democratic reforms in the 1950s and 1960s by the then ruling Kuomintang (KMT).

During Ma's speech at the event, Yao Mu-chi, a family member of one of the victims, shouted, "Both my mother and father were arrested and my family wiped out." She tearfully added later, "The KMT should compensate us from its assets."

Ma noted that white terror crackdowns occurred because of the proclamation of martial law in 1949 in the wake of the civil war between the Chinese Communist and KMT troops in China. Martial law in Taiwan was not lifted until 1987.

"If there had been no war, there would have been no restrictions on human rights," he said. "Avoiding war is crucial to safeguarding human rights and protecting the rule of law."

Doing so will ensure avoiding such wrongs, as the message of the memorial, Ma said.

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