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August 18, 2017

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25 years on, Taiwan remembers suppression by martial law with ceremony

TAIPEI--A ceremony was held Sunday to commemorate victims who lost their lives or were deprived of their freedom during Taiwan's authoritarian past on the 25th anniversary of the country's lifting of martial law.

President Ma Ying-jeou attended the ceremony held at a monument dedicated to victims of political suppression by the authoritarian Kuomintang (KMT) regime under martial law from 1949 to 1987.

Ma, who also chairs the KMT, once again offered an apology to the victims and their families and vowed to prevent the recurrence of similar incidents in the future.

During the martial law era, thousands of people were arrested, imprisoned, tortured and murdered by the then-KMT government's security apparatus to suppress attempts to undermine its grip on power.

At Sunday's memorial ceremony, Ma stressed in a 13-minute speech the importance of Taiwan's democratic and free system in preventing such tragedies.

"Avoiding war is also important," the president said, citing the war against China's Communist Party at the time as the reason for the KMT regime's implementation of martial law and its suppression of dissent.

"War is the killer of human rights," Ma said.

As a result, the president said, he has been committed to easing tensions in the Taiwan Strait since taking office in May 2008 to prevent the outbreak of war.

He also stressed that Taiwan must maintain a robust national defense, while doing its best to avoid war.

Meanwhile, the president presented official certificates to the families of the victims of suppression to restore the victims' reputations.

The ceremony was "very significant and meaningful" for the families, said an elderly man who received a certificate from the president to prove his father's innocence.

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