歷史迷霧中的六張犂──白色恐怖時期亂葬崗保存爭議
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離六張犁捷運站不遠處的山丘上,散落著數百名白色恐怖受難者的矮小墳塋,1990年代被發掘後曾引起關注,沉寂多年後,去年因保存與否的爭議又重回到公眾視線。

台北市政府文化局即將在2月24日週三舉行公聽會,進一步討論文化保存後的管理辦法。在公聽會前夕,《報導者》透過現場採訪與深度追蹤,呈現交織其中的複雜意義,一同思考此「暗黑地景」的未來挑戰。

李坤龍開啟塔位的門,一個木頭盒子在黯淡光線下發出沉鬱的色澤。他站在前方,定定地注視著,合起手掌連續拜了許多下,喃喃默念的細微聲融入周遭的寂靜,隨後拿出捲尺,挨近木盒:「長34、寬19、高17公分」,他將尺寸的細節一一寫在筆記本裡。木盒上面新貼著一張便條紙,寫著侯文理三字。
「卓仔,我擔心裡面有沒有東西,以前有家屬領回去以後,打開來是空的,我最怕這一點。」他對負責管理這座靈骨塔的台北市殯葬管理處(殯葬處)員工說。
「要打開來看嗎?」卓仔拿起木盒在耳旁搖一搖,「這裡面有,不多,應該都是比較小塊的骨頭。這種骨罐在台灣已經沒有了。」
塔內還存放了約80個1950年代的骨罐,許多為陶甕形制,上頭註明「國防醫學院」字樣。這座靈骨塔位於六張犁的「戒嚴時期受難者紀念公園」,更多當年的無主屍骨散布在周遭3個墓區,矮小墳塋被掩蓋在歷史底層多年,在1993年由「台灣地區政治受難人互助會」(互助會)成員發現。被埋在這裡的亡者,有因家貧無人認領的本省籍,約佔42%,也有在台灣無家屬的外省籍,約佔58%。
根據檔案,中共特工侯文理在1952年混入國防部保密局(現為國防部軍事情報局)工作,擔任反共突擊軍第三縱隊副司令搜集情報,在1958年被槍決。遺骸封存在這木盒裡超過半個世紀,直到2014年,侯文理的江蘇家屬終於找上前「台灣地區戒嚴時期政治事件處理協會」秘書長李坤龍(「處理協會」為互助會成員經立案申請,與官方接觸之單位),從今年農曆年前到年後,他便一直忙著為此奔走,等中國那邊的親屬公證書下來,就可以協助他們辦手續來台,領回骨罐。
李坤龍已經記不清這是第幾個他幫忙家屬尋回的親人,從處理協會秘書長任內,到後來離開處理協會,近20年來,他持續為這些遺落在歷史斷裂縫隙裡的死者,找回家的路。
二戰後台灣經過1947年228事件的動亂,許多青年親歷衝突,反國民黨意識急速高漲,同時隨著國共戰爭進入白熱化階段,隸屬中共的台灣省工作委員會(省工委會)急於滲透並解放台灣,結合思想左傾的知識份子、教師、學生、工人、農民,在全島執行情報搜集甚至計畫武裝革命。
為鞏固政權,國民政府在1949年宣布戒嚴,加強情治系統,大肆清剿叛亂分子,到了1950年代進入「白色恐怖」最高峰,當時被判死刑者於新店溪畔的馬場町執行槍決(1954年後則改到安坑刑場,現爲新店區第三公墓),遺體被送到極樂殯儀館(現為林森公園),此一當時台北唯一的殯儀館由上海人錢宗範獨門經營,同時擁有六張犁山間的墓地,被槍決者若無人認領,就運往六張犁山區草草掩埋,或拿去做醫學解剖之用,骨罐上國防醫學院字樣便由此而來。
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李坤龍,近20年來,持續為這些遺落在歷史斷裂縫隙裡的死者,找回家的路。(攝影╱吳逸驊)
李坤龍,近20年來,持續為這些遺落在歷史斷裂縫隙裡的死者,找回家的路。(攝影╱吳逸驊)

國家沒說的事:戒嚴38年裡發生了什麼?

「1993年時知道居然那邊有墓,媽媽跟我一樣很驚訝,不知道怎麼樣形容那種心情。都已經過了快50年,第一次去看的時候真的很痛心,雜草中一塊不起眼的小墓碑上,是父親斑駁的名字:黃賢忠。」今年65歲的退休老師黃新華說。
1951年政府當局以參加讀書會或加入匪幫等名義,逮補中壢義民中學多名教員,包括黃賢忠夫妻,黃賢忠在1952年被槍決前一年,妻子楊環於獄中生下黃新華。
「後來過了好幾年去撿骨,又已經比第一次找到時更殘破,颱風過後樹也倒了,土石把墓掩埋住,花了3、4個小時,挖得非常深還很難找到,幾乎快要放棄時,終於發現一些不完整的手指、頭骨。有時候仔細想想,到底那是不是我父親的骨骸?也不敢百分百確定,但也只能這樣了。」回憶起與未曾謀面父親的初遇,她仍難掩哀傷。
槍決現場馬場町和棄葬現場六張犁,後分別在2000與2002年由台北市政府規劃為紀念公園,除了受難者團體每年舉行肅穆的「秋祭」外,馬場町公園對市民的主要意義不外烤肉或騎腳踏車;六張犁則復歸沉寂,只偶有家屬、故舊、研究者造訪紀念,而至今仍有超過6成的墓碑,還沒有家屬相認。
直到2015年6月,台北市議員簡舒培、李建昌在六張犁墓區召開記者會,突然使這片地景進入公眾視野,他們強調此處是白色恐怖政治死難者唯一僅存的埋葬地點,極具歷史意義,但長期缺乏維護,墓區形同廢墟;對照鄰近於2012年被列為市定古蹟並編列預算補助的前國防部長白崇禧墓園,兩者待遇可謂天淵之別。
「在去年的時間點被議員提出來討論,對於關心六張犁墓區的團體及個人十分意外。」台灣大學社會學研究所博士班候選人林傳凱說,2008年他曾參與中央研究院社會學研究所研究員張茂桂的計畫,對六張犁的3個墓區進行包括墓碑數目統計、受難者身份檔案、地質探勘,甚至衛星定位等紀錄工作,並將成果製作成網頁(編按:白色封印/魂滅六張犁)。
「長久以來,我們覺得那邊就是這樣了,」林傳凱坦言,「不像228事件已成為台灣重要的象徵符號,要如何看待白色恐怖時期被埋在六張犁的這群死者,卻異常艱難,因為這牽涉到1940到50年代中共地下黨在台灣的活動。」
解嚴至今,針對228事件已出版了兩本國家級的研究報告,分別是1994年在李登輝總統任內由行政院召集,學者賴澤涵主筆的《228事件研究報告》;2006年在陳水扁總統任內,由當時的國史館館長張炎憲主導,228事件紀念基金會推出《228事件責任歸屬研究報告》。相較之下,時間更長的白色恐怖時期,官方的正式報告付之闕如。 
「228事件有具體的時間,比較容易談,一般想到『轉型正義』,228之後就是美麗島,美麗島之後接著就民主化,白色恐怖不是一個具體的事件,不容易放在這個敘事裡,」台灣大學政治系副教授黃長玲說,「可是它對社會的影響非常深遠,長達38年的戒嚴體制,到底發生了什麼事?從國家的角度並沒有給我們交代。」

白色恐怖是什麼?

白色恐怖(White Terror)一詞最早源自法國大革命,指右派的波旁王室支持者(以白色為代表色)對左派雅克賓黨人所採取的報復行動,後被廣泛形容對左派共產勢力的鎮壓。

在台灣的脈絡下,一般指1949至1987年的戒嚴時期,以「內亂」、「外患」罪名對人民進行軍法審判,期間政治案件層出不窮,鎮壓對象不分左派或右派,造成諸多冤錯假案;廣義來說,則延續到1992年,直到廢除刑法一百條才正式結束;而國民政府對左翼勢力撲殺最力的1949到1955年,被視為白色恐怖最高峰。官方長期諱言此一特定名詞,總以「戒嚴時期」稱之,包括對相關受難者之補償單位,名為「戒嚴時期不當叛亂暨匪諜審判案件補償基金會」,六張犁亂葬崗的紀念區域名為「戒嚴時期政治受難者紀念公園」,一直到2008年內政部興建的「白色恐怖政治受難者紀念碑」在凱達格蘭大道竣工揭碑,中央政府才首次正面提及。

長久的遺忘,面對之艱難

從2015年中到年末,六張犁墓區掀起的小小波瀾,具體而微顯示出現階段面對這片歷史地景的難度。
緊接在議員的記者會後,7月28日市府召集多個民間團體與文資審查委員到現場勘查,評估將其納入文化資產的可能性,但出席的3位委員李乾朗、李斌、周宗賢初步認定「不具文化資產價值」。
主要理由除了簡陋的墓碑看不出特別的美學形式、現場凌亂、與一般民間墓地交雜難以區分,某委員並表示「此一政治事件之真相尚未清楚記載或確定」。會議結論認為該地有水土流失的疑慮,不必要保持原貌,建議將遺骨及墓碑集中靈骨塔,並輔以史料展示。關心此事的團體對此一片譁然,他們認為此舉完全無法彰顯此地的歷史與文化重要性。
「那天到現場,有位委員連黃榮燦是誰都不認得,來會勘最起碼要做一點功課吧!」白色恐怖受難家屬,長期拍攝228與白色恐怖題材紀錄片的導演洪維健說,他也參與了當天的現場勘查。
黃榮燦的版畫《恐怖的檢查》常出現在中學教科書,被視為唯一直接描繪和抗議228事件的藝術作品,他被指控參加匪幫文藝組織「任《人民導報》畫刊『南虹』主編 ,及新創造出版社社長、台灣省師範學院講師等職,假文化宣傳之名先後參加台灣大學社團麥浪歌詠隊、蔡瑞月舞蹈團等藉以掩護工作,作反動宣傳。」而在1952年被槍決,墓碑位於第一墓區。
「每個受難亡靈,都是一個家庭的破碎,我爸媽運氣若不夠好,現在就躺在那上面了,這些記憶使我對那個山頭⋯⋯」說到這裡,洪維健不禁哽咽。他的父母在1950年代受牽連被捕入獄,同案許多人都被槍決長埋六張犁,母親當時懷胎中,洪維健在牢中出生,還在牢裡度過5年的童年時光。
2011年他與同是受難者後代的李坤龍受「戒嚴時期不當叛亂暨匪諜審判案件補償基金會」(補償基金會)委託,再度針對六張犁墓區進行歷史遺跡調查,以詳實的現場紀錄與檔案資料,發現更多受難者名單與墓碑,並一一製作案情摘要。
1993年發現六張犁亂葬崗後,受到社會高度關注,在許多相關團體中,從互助會中獨立出來的「50年代白色恐怖平反促進會」(簡稱促進會)積極推動平反運動,促成1998年立法院通過「戒嚴時期不當叛亂暨匪諜審判案件補償條例」,對當年因政治案件受監禁者或受難者家屬給予金錢賠償。
補償基金會負責白色恐怖受害者賠償工作,但歷年來的運作和行事作風卻引起社會諸多非議,中研院社會學研究所研究員吳乃德長期關注與推動台灣轉型正義議題,曾批評其「資訊開放程度極低、運作效率不彰、政府每年投入大量的人事與行政經費,工作成果卻非常有限,領取高薪的基金會成員甚至被立委譏為肥貓。」
在輿論批評與立委不支持的情況下,補償基金會於2014年解散,過往委託的許多研究案包括六張犁歷史遺跡調查,至今仍未正式對外公開;另一方面,怎麼看待這批受害者的身份意義,也是每當面對六張犁時,糾纏困惑社會的議題。當年立法院在討論賠償法案的過程中,有一種聲音認為部分受難者是要幫助對岸政權顛覆政府佔領台灣,將其視為一般意義下的「政治犯」並加以賠償並不合理。
「有一段時間,受難者常被呈現一種單一的形象,充滿理想的年輕人因為參加讀書會而莫名被捕、恐怖的刑求與冤假錯案⋯⋯但若他們其實是有組織、有計畫甚至有行動的要推翻政府呢?這很挑戰我們現階段談轉型正義時,萬惡威權體制與無辜百姓的二元對立既定概念。」林傳凱說,他以白色恐怖時期的省工委會為博士論文主題,長期持續進行相關口述歷史、田野調查與檔案研究,從中發覺當年「抵抗者」的複雜身影。
另有學者以國家權力濫用的角度,質疑戒嚴體制下的政府,並無正當性以國家之名剝奪另一群人的生命,「1950年代國民黨在台灣已掌握絕對武力,冷戰態勢下的政權鞏固,在相對安全的高壓統治下,持續槍決的正當性是什麼?」政治大學台灣史研究所教授薛化元強調。2015年「反高中課綱微調運動」時,他曾發起歷史學界連署,反對微調課綱大幅刪修「白色恐怖」等內容。
據《文化資產保存法》(文資法)第三條,文化資產是「具有歷史、文化、藝術、科學等價值,並經指定或登錄」,而六張犁亂葬崗所乘載的,是什麼樣的「價值」?在長期缺乏全面公開的資訊、受難者身份與動機的歷史定位仍存有爭議下,文資委員的猶疑,繼而一致否定,也就不太令人意外。

國家暴力剝奪的生命,持續被失憶的國家追討

在文資會勘做出「不必保留地景」的決議後,洪維健積極在文史工作者、議員、市府顧問間奔走聯繫,期待在接下來的文資審議流程中能夠翻案,深怕社會的無知與漠視,使得此地在一夕之間被剷平。
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位於六張犁白色恐怖受難者公墓,半世紀前被國家暴力剝奪的生命,無法被「記憶」,而只視為「占用」國土。(攝影╱吳逸驊)
位於六張犁白色恐怖受難者公墓,半世紀前被國家暴力剝奪的生命,無法被「記憶」,而只視為「占用」國土。(攝影╱吳逸驊)
他的擔心其來有自,7月底的會勘結束後,財政部國有財產署北區分署(國產署)以「最速件」行文殯葬處表示:「吳興街二小段635、637地號國有土地(即第三墓區),都市計畫使用分區為公墓用地。查本屬並未同意任何人使用前述國有土地,現場墓區係屬無權占用。」對於國產署如此的主張,洪維健至今仍難掩氣憤,「難道他們是自己選擇被槍斃要埋在這裡?」
這樣的主張不是第一次,2014年初國產署就曾發函殯葬處與互助會,表示2003年建造的紀念公園沒有包含三個亂葬崗現場,需要鑑界以確認是否有侵占國土之嫌。當年北市經歷陳水扁任內規劃、馬英九任內興建紀念公園後,市府對當地就沒有太多管理與介入,三個墓區被視為公有墓地,殯葬處與互助會形成「非正式共管」的默契。國產署的荒謬公文除了暴露政府單位缺乏平行聯繫,更再次顯示六張犁墓區的邊緣處境。
半世紀前被國家暴力剝奪的生命,無法被「記憶」,而只視為「占用」國土。
相較於積極串連、擴散輿論以凝聚保存共識的人士,互助會對於指定文資的態度不置可否,只「希望維持歷史原貌」。從發現、整理到舉辦紀念活動,互助會對此地景所承載的意義,一向抱持為紅色祖國犧牲奉獻的詮釋角度,「是不是作為文化資產,其實我們不是那麼在乎,我們期待統一之後,匯聚老前輩的意見,再做光榮的處置。」互助會總會長蔡裕榮強調。
這樣的立場,在紀念公園的「人民忠魂」紀念碑的對聯中表露無遺:「民主統一走向富強壯志未酬,愛國愛鄉改造社會死而後已」。死去的人無法說話,活著的人歌頌犧牲的英烈,無論是否這就是1950年代死難者追求的理想,都注定了難以被當代台灣社會理解,日益疏離的事實。「2013年12月我們辦了六張犁白色恐怖棄葬區發現20周年活動,當天有300多人到場,卻連一家媒體都沒有報導。」蔡裕榮說。
儘管如此,仍有來自不同領域的年輕人,與互助會合作以策展、工作坊與導覽等不同形式,試圖跳脫統一的論述,如2014年在寶藏巖國際藝術村舉辦的「紅字團2014-1949」,將六張犁放置在內戰與冷戰結構下的歷史現場,嘗試以更開放的討論,呈現其多重交織的意義。

文化景觀中,難以歸類的人性

在諸多民間文資團體的期待與壓力下,去年底台北市文化資產審議委員會首度開放民眾參與旁聽,幾個月前才被評估不具文資價值的六張犁政治受難者墓區,在會議中成為焦點。
面對仍有文資委員對當地背景抱持疑慮,表示仍有待考據,台灣戒嚴時期政治受難者關懷協會理事長蔡寬裕,當場情緒激憤地直指專業者的傲慢與怠惰,無視歷史事實。經過多輪的意見陳述,最後委員們破天荒地不以合議制,而是不記名投票表決,最後超過三分之二的票數,以「歷史紀念意義」登錄為《文資法》第三條「文化資產」中的第三項:「文化景觀」。
不同於古蹟或歷史建築指的是特定建物,文化景觀「指神話、傳說、事蹟、歷史事件、社群生活或儀式行為所定著之空間及相關連之環境」,賦予六張犁墓區空間較開放的彈性,但在技術層面上,如何以及該怎麼保存,卻又成為未來的莫大挑戰。
「那些現場當然是很重要的歷史見證,但目前的困難是因位處陡坡,大雨來時土石沖刷,隨時都有崩塌的危險!所以無法『獨善其身』,需要做土壤加固、排水等等大地工程;另外,多年來與一般的墓地混雜,也需要委請專業團隊進來做調查研究,釐清哪些墓碑有關哪些無關。」曾參與當天文資會議的委員李乾朗說。
在去年被列為文化景觀後,台北市文化局進一步在今年2月24日舉辦公聽會,討論六張犁墓區的保存範圍與管理辦法,這一段時間以來的文資爭議,對於亡者而言,只是漫長寂寞旅途中無關緊要的註腳,對我們而言,或許是通往理解的契機。
「每當來到這裡,看到墓碑上的名字,想起他們的生命如何走向死亡,都很感慨,這裡面太多人性的東西,很難歸到常見的『人權受難者』或『革命烈士』單一敘事。比如一個台中的年輕木匠,也是地下黨連絡員的李先生,根據檔案與同案難友的見證,因想念母親,在被捕後向特務請求希望『自新』,帶領警方逮捕其他成員。本以為因此有機會獲釋,但等眾人被捕後,他也一起被送往台北,最後在懷著掙扎與愧疚的情況下,仍被槍決,成為六張犁的一具墓塚。」林傳凱說。
李先生是被捉的人,也是帶頭捉人的人,但一切的出發點,卻是因為對活的眷戀,對家人的愛。
「每次看到這些極端政治下造成的艱難選擇,不禁會想,如果是我,會做出什麼選擇?我真有辦法通過那些考驗嗎?」林傳凱問道。
經過殘酷的處決與棄置、長久的發現和遺忘,六張犁山郊上矮小樸素的墳頭,時而隱沒,又漸次閃現,提醒著,這塊土地不算漫長卻不乏曲折的歷史中,難以迴避的一道暗影。
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The Graveyard At The Center Of Taiwan's White Terror Period

Scattered on the slopes of a public cemetery on the outskirts of Taipei lie the graves of hundreds victims of the White Terror. Forgotten until their discovery in the 1990s, they laid in silence until 2015, when a public debate erupted over their value and whether they were worth preserving.
Lee Kun-long (李坤龍) opens a small door in the wall, sitting inside is a wooden box giving off a melancholy luster in the dim rays of light.
He stands in front, gaze fixed forward, and puts his hands together in prayer, bowing again and again, the faint sound of his low murmurs dissolving into the ambient silence. He takes out a tape to measure the box: "34 centimeters long, 19 wide, 17 high," and records the figures in a notebook. A piece of scrap paper has been taped to the top of the wooden box, and the name Hou Wen-li (侯文理) is written on it.
"Toh (卓仔), I'm worried that there might be nothing inside. It's happened in the past that families take these home and find them empty." Lee directs these words towards the Taipei Mortuary Services Office's columbarium manager, who is tasked with managing the thousands of funerary urns on municipal cemetery lands.  
"Do you want me to open it?" Toh raised the wooden box to his ear and gave it a shake. "There's something in there, but not much, most likely some small bones. These kinds of bone urns are not common in Taiwan anymore."
The columbarium — a kind of funerary urn vault — is located in Taipei's Liuzhangli neighbourhood, in the Martial Law Era Victims Memorial Park. It holds bone urns from that era, with more unclaimed remains scattered throughout three sections of the surrounding cemetery.
These small tombstones have been hidden in the depths of history for decades and were only re-discovered in 1993 by the "Mutual Assistance Association for Former Political Prisoners in the Taiwan Area" — a pro-unification group that advocates for greater recognition of the suffering of pro-CCP political victims and their families during Taiwan's White Terror period.
Of the dead who are buried here, 42 percent are bensheng – those who came to Taiwan before World War II – and 58 percent are waisheng – people who fled from China with the KMT. The bensheng families are often too poor to claim these remains, while the waisheng buried here often have no family in Taiwan at all.
According to records, Hou Wen-li was a special agent for the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) who infiltrated the Counterintelligence Bureau of the Ministry of Defense (now the Military Intelligence Bureau) in 1952. He gathered intelligence as the second-in-command of the third column of the Anti-Communist Commando Army before he was executed in 1958. His only known remains were kept in this wooden box for over half a century.
But in 2014, Hou's relatives in eastern China's Jiangsu province found Lee Kun-long, the secretary of the "Taiwan Area Martial Law Political Incidents Management Association". Lee has been at work for a month on Hou's case; once he receives a proof of kinship from China, he can help Hou's relatives come to Taiwan and take the bones of their family member home.
Lee has already lost count of how many people he has helped. For the past 20 years, he has worked in official and unofficial capacities to find a way home for the dead.
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For the past 20 years, Lee Kun-long has helped the lost souls of Liuzhangli return home. Photo courtesy of Jameson Wu.
For the past 20 years, Lee Kun-long has helped the lost souls of Liuzhangli return home. Photo courtesy of Jameson Wu.
After the Second World War, many youths participated in the conflict surrounding the 228 Massacre. As the ensuing Chinese Civil War reached its most intense period of fighting, anti-KMT sentiment was growing rapidly in Taiwan. Members of the CCP Taiwan Province Working Committee were anxious to "liberate" Taiwan, and collected intelligence on left-leaning intellectuals, teachers, students, workers, and farmers on Taiwan with plans to foment an armed revolution.
To secure their rule, the KMT government declared martial law in 1949. They doubled their efforts in purging their ranks of Communists and conducted a ruthless suppression of rebels, right up until the peak of the White Terror in 1950. Prisoners were executed at gunpoint at Machangding on the banks of the Xindian River. The execution grounds moved in 1954 to Ankeng, now the Xindian District Third Public Cemetery.
Their remains were sent to the Elysium Funeral Parlor, now part of Linsen Park. If no family came forward to claim the remains, they would be buried at the cemetery at Liuzhangli or used as cadavers for medical students at the National Defense Medical Center. In the latter case, the name of that hospital would be written on their urns.

The 38 Year Silence of Martial Law

"When we found out there were so many graves over there in 1993, my mother and I were astonished. It's hard to describe that feeling. It's been over 50 years," says Huang Hsin-hua (黃新華), a 65-year old retired teacher whose father was a victim of the White Terror.
"When I first went to see them, it was so painful. Written on a small unremarkable gravestone amongst the weeds was my father's name: Huang Hsien-chong (黃賢忠)."
In 1951, during a government crackdown on political study groups and criminal gangs, many teachers at Yimin High School in Zhongli were arrested, including Huang Hsien-chong and his wife. A year before Hsien-chong was executed at gunpoint in 1952, his wife Yang Huan (楊環) gave birth to their daughter in prison.
"Retrieving his bones was even worse. A typhoon had just struck: fallen trees were everywhere, and the gravestone was buried by mud and rock. We spent three to four hours digging out a deep hole, and just as we were about to give up we finally noticed some fingerbone and skull fragments. Sometimes I think about it and wonder, were those actually my father's bones? I can't be certain, but this is all we have," Huang says of the father she never met.
In 2000 and 2002 the Taipei City government designated the execution grounds at Machangding and the burial grounds at Liuzhangli as memorial parks, but aside from the annual "autumn rite" conducted by victims' associations, the park at Machangding is nothing more than a place to barbeque or ride a bike. Liuzhangli has also returned to its original silence, with only researchers, family or old friends of the deceased visiting in commemoration. Today, more than 60 percent of remains have not been claimed by their families.
Liuzhangli remained outside the public eye until Taipei City Council members Jian Shu-pei (簡舒培) and Lee Chien-chang (李建昌) held a press conference there in 2015, blaming the poor state of the site on a lack of conservation efforts and stressing its historical significance as the only remaining burial ground for White Terror victims. They contrasted this treatment with the nearby gravesite of former Defense Minister Bai Chongxi (白崇禧), which received allocations in the city budget since it was designated a historic site.
"It was a great surprise to concerned organizations and individuals that these two city councilors had raised Liuzhangli," said Lin Chuan-kai (林傳凱), a Ph.D. candidate in the sociology department at National Taiwan University. In 2008, Lin participated in a program directed by Academia Sinica to collect statistics on the number of dead buried at Liuzhangli. They recorded the identities of the victims, collated other available records, and conducted a geological survey. GPS coordinates were even logged for each gravesite. The results were then published on a website, called "Souls Extinguished at Liuzhangli".
"Unlike how 228 has become an important symbol for Taiwanese, for a long time we've felt, that the question of how to regard the dead buried at Liuzhangli during the White Terror is exceptionally difficult because it involves underground CCP operatives in Taiwan from 1940 to 1950," Lin says candidly.
From the end of the martial law period until today, there have been two national level reports on the 228 Massacre, one initiated by President Lee Teng-hui and the other by President Chen Shui-bian. By contrast, there are no government reports on the much longer White Terror period.
"The 228 Incident is a single event, which makes it easier to talk about, it is the starting point for discussing transitional justice, followed by the Kaohsiung Incident and democratization," says Huang Chang-ling (黃長玲), an assistant professor at National Taiwan University.
"On the other hand, the White Terror is a period of time which is difficult to place in a narrative. But its impact on society was very deep. What actually happened in those 38 years? There hasn't been a national accounting of what transpired."

What is the White Terror?

The term "White Terror" can be traced back to the French Revolution, referring to the reprisal operation by right-wing supporters of the House of Bourbon (who wore white) against the left-wing Jacobins. The term was later broadened to describe suppression against left-wing Communists.

In the context of Taiwan, the White Terror generally refers to the martial law period between 1949 and 1987. During this time it was common for civilians to be tried in military courts under charges of "civil unrest" and "foreign aggression." People on both the left and the right were persecuted, and there were many cases of mistaken convictions or fabricated charges. In a general sense, this period continued until 1992 when Article 100 of the Criminal Code (which established life sentences for intent to destroy the state, usurp national land, illegally alter the Constitution, or topple the government) was formally abolished.

The KMT suppression of the left reached its height between 1949 and 1955. For a long time, the term "White Terror" was taboo for government officials, who used the term "martial law period" instead.  This taboo was broken in 2008 when the Ministry of the Interior created the White Terror Political Victims Monument on Ketagalan Boulevard.

The Challenge of Facing Long Forgotten Memories

From mid to late 2015, the discussion surrounding Liuzhangli came to represent the difficulties in facing this particular stretch of Taiwanese history. Immediately after the press conference by the Taipei city councilors, the city government called upon civic groups and members of the cultural assets committee to conduct an on-site survey and assess the possibility of designating the site as a cultural asset.
But the initial finding of the three committee members present, Lee Chian-lang (李乾朗), Lee Bin (李斌) and Chou Chong-hsien (周宗賢), was that the site "did not have cultural value."
According to the committee, the site was too "messy" and it was difficult to find aesthetic value in the crudely-made gravestones, which were difficult to distinguish from those in an ordinary cemetery. The main reason, however, as expressed by a committee member was that "the truths regarding this political incident have not yet been definitively understood or recorded."
The committee report concludes with qualms about drainage at the site, and suggests it is unnecessary to preserve the original form of the graveyard. Instead, the committee notes that remains could be collected in a columbarium supplemented by historical exhibits.
"When I arrived on the site that day, the committee member didn't even know who Huang Rong-can (黃榮燦) was," says Yen Hong-wei (演洪維), "The investigators should at least do a little bit of homework!"
Yen was present during the survey and has family counted among the victims of the White Terror. He is shooting documentaries about both the 228 Massacre and the White Terror period.
Huang Rong-can's woodcut, The Horrifying Inspection, often appears in middle school textbooks in Taiwan. It is considered to be the only work of art that described and protested the 228 Massacre, at the time. Huang was accused by the KMT of participating in a criminal artistic organization and was charged with "disseminating false culture and producing reactionary propaganda." In 1952, he was executed at gunpoint, and is buried in the first section of the memorial park.
"Every soul departed is a family destroyed," says Hung Wei-jian (洪維健), whose parents were sent to jail as political prisoners in the 1950's. At the time, his mother was pregnant, Wei-jian was born in prison and spent the first five years of his life there.
"If my parents weren't lucky, then they would also be laying there in Liuzhangli. Because of these memories, that hill…" At this point, Hung chokes up.
In 2011, Hung and Lee Kun-long — who is also the son of a White Terror victim — were commissioned by the "Compensation Foundation for Victims of Improper Verdicts in the Martial Law Era" to conduct another investigation into the historical artifacts at Liuzhangli. Using detailed reports and archival material, Hung and Lee discovered even more victims and tombstones, and recorded their findings for each case.
When the mass graves at Liuzhangli were discovered in 1993 they received much public attention. In 1998 the Legislative Yuan passed the Martial Law Era Improper Ruling Compensation Bill, which granted families of White Terror victims monetary compensation, to be determined by the Compensation Foundation.
But over the years, the Compensation Foundation's methods have attracted public criticism. Wu Nai-te (吳乃德), a researcher at Academia Sinica who has long advocated for transitional justice, criticizes the committee for "low transparency, inefficient operations, underperformance, and overusing resources."
"Even the Legislature has called these highly paid committee members 'fat cats'", he adds.
Because of public criticism and a lack of support in the Legislature, the Compensation Foundation was dissolved in 2014, and much of the research commissioned was never released to the public, including the investigation at Liuzhangli.
What's more, when confronting the issue at Liuzhangli, the question of how to regard the identities of these victims was a problem that perplexed Taiwanese society. When the compensation bill was first discussed in the Legislature, some felt that the portion of victims who were helping the CCP to take over Taiwan should fall under the normal definition of a "political crime" and not be subject to compensation.
"For a time, the victims were presented as a uniform group, that is as idealistic youths who were arrested for attending study groups, and who were tortured terribly and charged falsely," says Lin Chuan-kai, whose dissertation investigates the workings of the CCP Taiwan Province Working Committee during the White Terror. "But what if some were actually organized and had planned to topple the government? The duality between an evil authority and innocent common folk is the established framework when we talk about transitional justice today."
Other scholars approach the issue from the standpoint of abuse of power, and question whether an illegitimate government ruling through martial law could, in the name of the nation, deprive another group of their lives.
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For the departed White Terror victims at Liuzhangli, whose iives were so violently taken by the State, there is no "remembrance" only "occupation" of state land. Photo courtesy of Jameson Wu.
For the departed White Terror victims at Liuzhangli, whose iives were so violently taken by the State, there is no "remembrance" only "occupation" of state land. Photo courtesy of Jameson Wu.
"Against the backdrop of the Cold War in the 50's, the KMT had already monopolized force and consolidated power in Taiwan. Given their relatively safe hold on power, what political legitimacy did they have to conduct these executions?" says Hsueh Hua-yuan (薛化元), a professor of Taiwanese history at Chengchi University.

The Search for a National Discussion

Under the Cultural Assets Protection Law, a cultural asset should "have historical, cultural, artistic or scientific value." But what kind of value do the scattered graves at Liuzhangli have? The hesitation of the cultural assets committee and their subsequent rejection should not have come as a surprise, as the public did not have access to complete information and there is still controversy surrounding the identities and motivations of the victims.
When the cultural assets committee decided that Liuzhangli did not require conservation, Hung Wei-jian rushed between historians, representatives and city hall advisers to see if there was a possibility that the verdict could be overturned. He was fearful that Liuzhangli could be leveled flat overnight due to society's ignorance and neglect.
His worry was not unfounded. When the Ministry of Finance's National Property Association concluded a survey in July 2015, they issued a statement that fast-tracks use of the area as a public cemetery.
"The city plans to allocate national property at Wuxing subsection 2, parcel 635 and 637 (the location of the third section) for use as a public cemetery. This office does not authorize the use of the aforementioned property by any persons, and existing graves have no right to occupy the site."
Responding to the statement, Hung Wei-jian could hardly conceal his anger: "So, I guess they just decided to bury themselves in this spot?"
This was not the first time such an opinion has been issued. In early 2014, the National Property Administration sent a letter to members of the Mutual Assistance Association for Former Political Prisoners in the Taiwan Area, as well as to Taipei City's mortuary office, declaring that a memorial park constructed in 2003 will not include the three White Terror victim burial ground zones, and that they needed to verify whether the sites occupied national land.
The memorial park was planned during Chen Shui-bian's tenure as mayor of Taipei; but under the Ma Ying-jeou mayoralty, the city took a hands-off approach to the park's administration. At the time, the three burial grounds were viewed as part of the public cemetery, and the mortuary office and Mutual Assistance Association tacitly agreed to jointly administer the land.
Aside from exposing how out-of-touch the national government was, the National Property Administration's letter demonstrated the marginal status of the Liuzhangli gravesites. Having been stripped of life by the nation half a century ago, the dead are not just forgotten but seen as "occupying" national land.
In contrast to public figures who work actively to spread the word and make connections in order to consolidate public consensus, the Mutual Assistance Association declined to comment on the attitudes of the cultural assets committee, saying only that they "wished to preserve the original form of history."
Although it was the Mutual Assistance Association that discovered the site, the group itself is not without controversy. They embrace the idea of sacrifice and devotion to a red motherland; "We do not actually care too much about whether it is classified as a cultural asset. We hope that after unification, we can consult the opinions of our elders and exact a glorious punishment," says Association president Tsai Yu-rong (蔡裕榮).
This kind of pro-unification viewpoint is displayed in full on the opposing couplets hanging at the "People's Loyal Spirit" (人民忠魂) monument in the memorial park:
"Let us walk towards an unfulfilled aspiration of wealth and power via democratic unification; to love the country and the homeland and transform society until the day we die."
The dead cannot speak, and the living sing the praises of heroes' sacrifice. Whether or not these represent the ideals of the victims from the '50s is a difficult question for present-day Taiwanese society to understand, a consequence of the distance that grows with each passing day.
"In December of 2013, we organized an activity to commemorate the 20th year anniversary of the discovery of the Liuzhangli graves. That day there were more there 300 people who came, but there was not a single reporter from the media" says Tsai.
But there are some young people who help the Mutual Aid Association plan exhibitions, do work, and give tours, and try to jettison the discussion of unification. For example, the exhibit "Red Group" (紅字團, 2014-1949) at Taipei's Treasure Hill Artist Village placed Liuzhangli in the context of the Chinese Civil War and the Cold War in an attempt to incite a more open-minded discussion and to present a more multifaceted meaning behind the graves.

A Human Nature that is Difficult to Classify

In 2015, under the pressure of various civic groups, the Taipei cultural assets committee opened their doors for a public meeting for the first time. The graveyards at Liuzhangli, which were determined to lack cultural value, were a focal point of the meeting.
Facing the hesitation of committee members who indicated that studies were still pending, Tsai Kuan-yu (蔡寬裕), director general of the "Formosan Political Prisoners Association" — an organization with links to the DPP that advocates for greater restitution for victims of political crimes — angrily accused specialists of arrogance and laziness, and of ignoring historical facts.
In the end, the committee took the unprecedented step of foregoing a committee conference and instead took an anonymous vote to decide the status of Liuzhangli. More than two thirds of the members voted to designate the site as a cultural landscape under the Cultural Assets Law to "commemorate the significance of its history."
Though the committee was flexible in classifying Liuzhangli as a cultural landscape, the technical question of how to conserve the site is the greatest challenge for the future.
"Because the site is located on a steep hill, when the storms come, the stones will be washed away and there is a constant danger of a landslide," says Lee Chian-lang, who made the initial decision not to protect the site. "We would have to reinforce the soil and build drainages. Furthermore, since ordinary gravesites have mixed with historical ones over the years, we would need a team of specialists to conduct a study to clarify which tombstones are relevant and which are not."
After it was classified as a cultural landscape, the Taipei City Department of Cultural Affairs conducted a public hearing to discuss the scope of conservation at Liuzhangli and how to manage it.
For the dead, this controversy over cultural asset classification is just an insignificant footnote on a long and lonely journey. But for the living, it is an opportunity to create a greater understanding.
"Every time I come here and see the names on the tombstones and think about how they moved from life to death, I feel sorrow. There is a lot of human nature here which is hard to work into a single narrative of 'human rights victims' or 'revolutionary martyrs'", says Lin Chuan-kai.
He gives the example of a Mr. Lee, a young man arrested for political activities, who then turned in others to ensure his freedom.
"Mr. Lee was a young carpenter from Taichung who was a liaison for an underground political party. After his arrest he told the special agent that he missed his mother and hoped to turn over a new leaf. He gave them information that helped arrest other party members, but in the end he was executed along with them and carried his guilt to the grave in Liuzhangli. Mr. Lee was arrested and also helped to arrest others. His motives were driven by his yearning to live and his love for his family. Every time I see these impossible choices caused by extreme politics, I can't help but think, if it were me, what would I have chosen? Could I really have passed that kind of test?"
Having been cruelly executed and tossed away, discovered and then forgotten, these modest burial mounds on the slopes of Liuzhangli fade away from time to time, only to flash back into view. They remind us of the inescapable shadow cast over the short but complicated history of this land.
More English reads, please click here.

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