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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