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Oral history documenting former prisoners and White Terror history

A Day on Green Island:
Visual record of the Green Island Human Rights Memorial Park

⊙The sleeve cover of A Day on Green Island, a DVD published by National Taitung Living Art Center in 2009.

Written by Ronald Tsao
English translation by Lynn Miles

Stories passed down over 60 years by former prisoners, the victims of the White Terror, and the people of Green Island make up this 40-minute documentary, revealing just how unforgettable are such life experiences. They are still very much a part of the collective memory of the prisoners, their families, and the residents of an island cut off from the outside world.
Popularly known as the “labor reform concentration camp,” from 1951 to 1965 the New Life Correction Center was the first of several prisons to imprison victims of the White Terror. The prison run by the Ministry of Defense from 1972 to 1987 went by the name “Oasis Villa,” and adopted concentration-camp measures within its high walls. The “New Lifers,” as they were called by the island residents, now find it difficult to describe what it was like then, especially a daily prison routine that still allowed interaction with the locals, as the New Lifers sought to survive in their newfound natural surroundings.

Collected here are mainly the stories of the survivors, but their wives, children and grandchildren also make their appearance to call up history. Production labor brigades, trade and exchange with the islanders, medical services, dramatic productions…. all these and more heart-rending vignettes together weave a dramatic tapestry. Add to these the impressions of contemporary visitors to the human rights memorial, and one gets a feeling for how the past and present connect.

The cover of attached booklet to A Day on Green Island.

Rather than shooting from a script, the camera goes wandering in search of memory that changes through the passage of time. Thanks to the generous revelatory contributions of the victimized prisoners as well as other participants, today we are able to enjoy what may be called a “collective memory.” Perhaps more like these story-tellers will follow, as we salute their courage!
Many are the former prisoners who call Green Island their second homeland. One political victim goes so far as to insist that it was his only home, as he was sent to the New Life Correction Center at an early age. What they all share is that, with the natural beauty of the place where they passed the spring of their lives having once been so unspoiled, now they are concerned about the future – of the natural environment, and with how their experiences will be carried into the future.

As for the present, it is the combination of verdant mountains and azure sea that draws so many visitors today. For them it may be difficult to imagine what it was like for someone to have spent 15 years of their life here nearly 60 years ago.
Quite likely there is no other place like this in the world, with no end to the stories that can be told of an island so cut off from everything else. Today, these personal stories connect the rich cultural legacies of both Taiwan and Green Island.

For more information visit: http:// 2009greenisland.blogspot.com

Former prisoners:
Chu Wei-huang born 1927
Ke Chi-hua born 1929
Hu Tzu-tan born 1929
Hu Hsin-lin born 1919
Hu Pao-chen born 1924
Lin En-kui born 1922
Wang Ching-shu born 1922
Su You-peng born 1926
Hsu Chiang born 1913
Hsieh Kuei-lin born 1920
Kuo Hsiu-tsung born 1917
Hsieh Yung-ching born 1920
Loshin Wadan born 1899
Yeh Sheng-chi born 1923
Chu Yao-chieh born 1921
Lin Li born 1903
Huang Wen-kung born 1920
Tsai Kun-lin born 1930
Ku Yen Pi-hsia born 1914
Huang Yu-ting born 1928
Shih Hsien-hua born 1930
Hsieh Chiu-lin born 1923
Chen Peng-yun born 1927
Lu Chao-lin born 1929
Chang Chen-teng born 1929
Chiang Huai-tsun born 1932
Yeh Hsueh-chun born 1930
Chang Kan-nan born 1930
Kuo Chen-chun born 1925
Huang Kuang-hai born 1927
Huang Shih-kui born 1928
Chang Chin-hsing born 1932
Chen Chin born 1922
Lin Ching-ming born 1922
Chiu Kui-pi born 1924
Yen Shih-hung born 1927
Yen Chi-ming born 1931
Chen Meng-ho born 1930
Auyang Wen born 1924
Teng Hua-sheng born 1926
Chen Ting-hsiang born 1921
Kuo Yi-dong(Po Yang) born 1920
Mao Fu-cheng born 1932
Lin Yao-chin born 1928
Huang Chung-hua born 1931
Wang Wen-ching born 1927

Former prisoners' family members:
Ke Tsai A-li born 1933
Chang Yi-lung born 1981
Hu Nai-yuan born 1961

Green Islanders:
Lin Teng-jung
Tien Hui-hung
Tien Fen-lai
Tien Yi-sheng
Tsai Chu-fu
Tien Jui-hung
Chen Chien-nan
Tien Chen-chu
Tang Shu-hsiang
Chen Hsin-chuan
Li Tsz-fu

Li Hong-chih
Lin Sung-po
Sung Han
Rene Ziechner
Huang Ting-chieh
Su Wei-ling
Chu Ying-ying
Li Tsz-fu

Written by Ronald Tsao
English translation by Lynn Miles & Richard Hsu
Japanese translation by Tsai Kun-lin
Japanese revisions by Miyake Kiyoko and Li Ming-juinn
Cover and packaging design by Chiang Kuo-liang

Selected Paintings From Collection Campaign

Taitung & Green Island Students Group/First Prize Award

◆作品名稱:人權的代表─和平    作者:邱翎(台東縣公館國小,六年級)
Human Rights Is Peace, by Chiou Ling, 6th grade, Gong-guan Primary School, Taitung county

Taitung & Green Island Students Group/Merit Awards 

◆作品名稱:人權和平、紀念、綠島    作者:金念欣(台東縣新園國小,六年級)
Human Rights & Peace‧Memorial‧Green Island, by Jin Nian-Sin, 6th grade, Sin-Yuan Primary School, Taitung county

◆作品名稱:綠島人權紀念    作者:陳威廷(台東縣新園國小,五年級)
Green Island Human Rights Memorial, by  Chen Wei-Ting,  5th grade, Sin-Yuan Primary School, Taitung county

◆作品名稱:綠島的回憶    作者:楊馥甄(台東縣新園國小,六年級)
Memory of Green Island, by Yang Fu-Jhen, 5th grade, Sin-Yuan Primary School, Taitung county

Taitung & Green Island Students Group/Good Awards
◆作品名稱:綠島的人權和平紀念日    作者:陳宣如(台東縣新園國小,六年級)
The Music Festival In Green Island Memorial Park,  by Chen Syuan-Ru, 6th grade, Sin-Yuan Primary School, Taitung county

◆作品名稱:和平的島嶼    作者:黃怡潁(台東縣新園國小,六年級)
Peaceful Island, by Hwang Yi-Ying,  6th grade, Sin-Yuan Primary School, Taitung county

◆作品名稱:和平與人權    作者:黃玟慈(台東縣仁愛國小,三年級)
Peace And Human Rights, by Hwang Wen-Cih, 3rd grade, Ren-Ai Primary School, Taitung county

◆作品名稱:綠島有美麗的魚、百合、梅花鹿    作者:鄭宇傑(台東縣立幼稚園,大班)
There are Beautiful Fishes, Lilies and Deers On Green Island, by Jheng Yu-Jie, L grade, Taitung County Kindergarten, Taitung county

◆作品名稱:紀念綠島和平人權    作者:謝語謙(台東縣新園國小,五年級)
Memorial to Peace And Human Rights In Green Island, by Sie Yu-Cian, 5th grade,  Sin-Yuan Primary School, Taitung county

National Group/First Prize Award
◆作品名稱:追求和平,散播愛與大地    作者:林鈺軒(高雄市七賢國小,五年級)
Pursuit for Peace, Spread Love On the Earth,  by Lin Yu-Syuan, 5th grade, Ci-Sian Primary School, Kaohsiung city

National Group/Merit Awards
◆作品名稱:揮別陰霾、重現光明    作者:白翔升(基隆市暖西國小,五年級)
Farewell To Haze,  Re-emergence Bright, by  Bai Siang-Sheng, 5th grade, Nuan-Si Primary School, Keelung city

◆作品名稱:白色恐怖的悲哀    作者:陳宏睿(高雄縣前峰國小,五年級)
The Grief of White Terror, by  Chen Hong-Ruei, 5th grade, Cian-Fong Primary School, Kaohsiung county

◆作品名稱:樂揚火燒島、百合頌人權    作者:蘇筠媃(基隆市暖江國小,五年級)
Music Flow The Island, Lilies Praise Human Rights,  by Su Yun-Rou, 5th grade, Nuan-Jiang Primary School, Keelung city

National Group/Good Awards
◆作品名稱:詠白    作者:汪筱薔(桃園縣自立國小,六年級)
Memorial About White,  by Wan Siao-Ciang,  6th grade, Zih-Li Primary School, Taoyuan county

◆作品名稱:自由和平的可貴    作者:張庭瑜(台中縣中華國小,六年級)
The Value of Freedom And Peace, by Chang Ting-Yu, 6th grade, Chong-Hua Primary School, Taichung county

◆作品名稱:綠島之美    作者:陳宥銜(宜蘭縣光復國小,六年級)
The Beautiful Island, by  Chen Yu-Sian, 6th grade, Guang-Fu Primary School, Ilan county

◆作品名稱:別讓白色恐怖再度來臨    作者:劉芷菱(高雄縣岡山國小,五年級)
White Terror Never Come Again, by Liou Jhih-Ling, 5th grade, Gang-Shan Primary School, Kaohsiung county

◆作品名稱:世界一家    作者:歐晉華(台中縣華盛頓國小,二年級)
The World Is A Family,by Ou Jin-Hua, 2nd grade, Washington Primary School, Taichung county

International Group/Additional Adwards
◆作品名稱:Free and Happy Life    作者:Martincsàk Anna(6 age ,Stromfeld School, Hungary)

◆作品名稱:Family    作者:Nagy Ambrus(10 age,Stromfeld School, Hungary)

◆作品名稱:Life    作者:Simon Petra(10 age,Lajtha AMI, Hungary)

◆作品名稱:Happy Childhood    作者:Horvàth Dominika(10 age,Stromfeld School, Hungary)

◆作品名稱:Happy Childhood    作者:Somlyai Klaudia(10 age,Stromfeld School, Hungary)

◆作品名稱:Playing Together    作者:Fenyvsi Dàvid(7 age,Stromfeld School, Hungary)

◆作品名稱:Mummy Waits for You    作者:Hornyàk Emese(7 age,Lajtha AMI, Hungary)

◆作品名稱:Family    作者:Martincsàk Kata(10 age,Stromfeld School, Hungary)

General Summary

    ◆Sun rising over Three Peak Crag (photo by Ronald Tsao)

    The park area was originally home to two prisons built to accommodate political prisoners during the time of the White Terror. First was the New Life Correction Center (1951~1965), operated by the Taiwan Security Command, reflecting Taiwan’s isolated position in the global Cold War. Later came the Ministry of National Defense Green Island Reform and Reeducation Prison (1972~1987). It was also the time of the rising tide of the human rights movement, when overseas human rights activists came to the rescue of Taiwan’s political prisoners. The postwar history of the repression of human rights in Taiwan finds its concrete expression in the relics and exhibition activities of this park.

    ◆The park is located northeast of Greeb Island. (provided by Taiwan Art-in Design Company)

General Summary
Human rights history, island ecology, peace culture
    Martial law was declared by the Kuomitang regime on 19 May 1949 and went into effect the next day. It was the law of the land until 15 July 1987 - 38 years of rule by White Terror, where people lost their lives and property, and were deprived of their rights and freedom.
This is a memorial park commemorating the suffering of the people under the long period of martial law. More than showing the history of human rights, it is also concerned with ecological consciousness.

    Based on the historical truth of the people’s pursuit of democracy and freedom, the park makes use of museum activities - collection, research, exhibition, communication with the public, and interpretation - to manage the historical relics of the political prisons operated during the era of the White Terror, to interpret and research Taiwan’s modern history, to promote human rights and environmental education, to enhance the human rights consciousness of our fellow citizens, and to further peace culture exchange internationally.

    When it comes to the means by which democracy is protected, all citizens must be aware that they can become human rights workers, caring about the existence of our environment and striving to create a more beautiful future.

Forbidden Territory: the White Terror Prison System

    ◆Martial Law Section, Detention Center, and other related institutions of detention, reform, and reeducation during White Terror period in Taiwan.(provided by Taiwan Art-in Design Company)

    During our country’s 38-year-long period of martial law, where civilians were tried under the martial law system of military courts martial, political prisoners were to go through arrest, interrogation, torture, trial and carrying out of sentence, release, and social surveillance. Then, since 1986, came the social opposition to martial law, social movements, the movement to end martial law, the movements for democratization and direct election of the president, and the people’s liberation struggle to gain their freedom, social rights and economic rights. All this formed Taiwan’s human rights history of the postwar 20th century.

    Charted above are Martial Law Section, Detention Center, and other related institutions of detention, reform, and reeducation during White Terror period in Taiwan, with arrows indicating detainment, trial, detention, reform, reeducation, and transfer of the prisoners.

Park at a Glance

    ◆Map of Green Island Human Rights Memorial Park.(provided by Taiwan Art-in Design Company)
  Archeological investigations show that prehistoric human activity here goes back about 4000 years. The various indigenous peoples of Taiwan believe they came from “Sanasai,” their name for Green Island. Prehistoric links with the Austronesian peoples throughout the Pacific and Indian oceans have long interested archeologists and anthropologists.

  200 years ago the first Han people came here from Siao Liuciou, off southwest Taiwan. Spreading throughout the island, they now comprise four villages. Early-period dwellings were squat structures with roofs of local wood atop walls of stacked coral. Liuma Ditch is near a prison built during Japanese colonial rule, the Burnt Island Detention Center for Vagrants (1911~1919). After the war, the Kuomintang government opened first the New Life Correction Center, and later the Ministry of National Defense Green Island Reform and Reeducation Prison. With martial law ended, it became the Ministry of Interior’s Green Island Vocational Training Center. Each of these prisons has left behind different political slogans as the signatures of their times.

Broken-rock slope on the western side of Gongguanbi, a prehistoric site.(photo by Ronald Tsao)

    ◆Gongguan Village, south
Cultivated fields show the legacy of scattered rubble of archeological digs.(photo by Ronald Tsao)

    ◆Human Rights Memorial Park
Plaque memorializing the White Terror victims.(photo by Ronald Tsao)

    ◆Coast Guard Dormitory
“Living in Peace, Vigilant to Danger.” The wall of reef rock was built by New Life inmates.(photo by Ronald Tsao)

    ◆“Exterminate the Communists, Restore the Country”
    A political slogan typifying the period of the KMT-CCP Civil War.(photo by Ronald Tsao)

    ◆Three-peak Rock, General’s Rock
    Striking landmarks on the way into the park. (Provided by Taiwan Art-in Design Company, photo by Liu Chen-hsiang)

    ◆Elephant’s Trunk Rock
    Elephant Trunk Rock was known by the prisoners as “Devil’s Gate.(photo by Ronald Tsao)

    ◆Oasis Villa Rock
    Rock inscribed with “Oasis Villa,”built in 1970.(photo by Ronald Tsao)

    ◆Oasis Villa
    The Ministry of National Defense Green Island Reform and Reeducation Prison (Oasis Villa) (photo by Pan Hsiao-hsia)

    ◆New Life Correction Center
    The prison was used in the 1950s to house political inmates. (Photo by Chen Meng-ho)

    ◆“Our Exile, Never Forgotten”
    The slogan invokes an event that took place 2300 years ago in Shandong on the Chinese mainland, where General Tian Dan led the military and the people as a combined force.(photo by Ronald Tsao)

    ◆Green Island Vocational Training Center
    The red-tiled complex, also known as “Jingdeh Villa,” pulled out of Green Island on 31 December 2002.(photo by Ronald Tsao)

    ◆Tzuhang Temple
    Constructed by the Third Training Squad of the Green Island Command Unit in 1985 for worship by the Training Squad, officers and troops. Nearby is the crematorium and burial ground for New Life Correction Center inmates.(photo by Ronald Tsao)

    ◆Mouth of the Liuma Gulley
    At the east of the park is where Liuma Gulley enters the sea. Before the reservoir was built, it served as prison water supply. Eel, fish and shrimp could be caught in it.(photo by Ronald Tsao)

    ◆Rock-breaking Area
    The area alongside the reef to the north was where inmates broke up reef rock in the early days of the New Life Correction Center.(photo by Ronald Tsao)

    ◆Thirteenth Squadron
    There were 12 squadrons in the New Life Correction Center. “Squadron 13” was where inmates, officers and troops were buried.(photo by Ronald Tsao)

    ◆Swallow Cave
    Here New Lifers rehearsed plays, painted backdrops, and cremated fellow inmates. The cool cave hosted a stage that they fashioned of reef rock.(photo by Ronald Tsao)

    ◆Ox Head Hill
    Last rays of the setting sun over the park area.(photo by Ronald Tsao)