Monday, December 12, 2011

American Freedom Fighter visits imprisoned Taiwanese democracy leader

Missionary pays secret visit to Chen Shui-bian in Taipei jail today, gives him his memoirs of KMT's "White Terror '' days

(Got this story in my e-mail. Media embargoed till Monday evening Taiwan time. But I'm not "media" and I'm not in Taiwan. So here it is...)

webposted by anonymous

Former US missionary in Taiwan Milo Thornberry,  75, who was a central figure in helping human rights leader Peng Ming-min (彭明敏) escape from Taiwan during the years of the White Terror, paid a private personal visit to former Taiwan president Chen Shui-bian today, inside the jail where Chen now whiles away his days.

During the private visit, which was intentionally kept out of the
media limelight, and was just a personal private meeting between to
old friends, Dr. Thornberry gave a copy of his memoir about his Taiwan days to President Chen, who is serving a 15 year prison sentence in a Taipei jail.

Thornberry went to Taiwan as a missionary of the Methodist Church at the end of 1965 and over the next few years — as recounted in his
recently published book Fireproof Moth — secretly distributed
money to the families of political prisoners.

He and his wife also worked to inform the outside world of the
torture, the executions and the repression practiced under the Martial
Law era regime of Chiang Kai-shek (蔣介石).

In particular, he collaborated with Peng and two former students —
Hsieh Tsung-min (謝聰敏) and Wei Ting-chao (魏廷朝) — who were both arrested, “horribly tortured,” tried in a secret court and served long prison terms.

According to Thornberry, who is now retired but still gives sermons
and speeches as a Methodist pastor, the “shadows” from the period of
martial law had a bearing on the diverging views of Taiwan’s future.

After democratization in Taiwan, none of the officials responsible for
the White Terror were brought to account, Thornberry told the Taipei
Times recently.

“Since the election of the [President] Ma [Ying-jeou (馬英九)]
administration, not much has been heard from it about the period of
White Terror,” he added.

“Does the KMT [Kuomingtang or Chinese Nationalist Party] simply want to forget that period, believing that younger generations who didn’t experience White Terror will not care about it?” he asked.

However, he said, until this past is acknowledged openly and dealt
with justly, “I wonder if Taiwan can live into the future without

“The shadows of the conspiracy of silence also fall on the US
government,” he says.

“Some in today’s administration seem little more concerned about the
hopes and aspirations of the Taiwanese people than they were during
the period of White Terror,” he says.

“Although they knew the reality, they deemed it in the U.S. national
interest to disregard the Taiwanese people in favor of Chiang
Kai-shek,” Thornberry says.

“Now, I fear that the Taiwanese people’s interests are disregarded
because of U.S. interests in China, not to mention the complication of
our indebtedness to China. The issues now and then are different, but
the readiness to disregard the will of the Taiwanese people is the
same,” he says.

Thornberry's visit to Chen in prison was arranged by Chen's friends,
and was a purely private, personal visit between two old friends.
Thornberry had met Chen two times when he serving as president of Taiwan in 2003 and again in 2008.


dan said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
dan said...

well, embargo has been

dan said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
dan said...

btw, a fellow traveller from Michigan now in Taiwan notes:

Dear Embargoers,

''embargoed? I got it as well, and Stephen Nelson just posted it to his Facebook. [DID YOU? WHERE?] It
would seem true, since Dr Thornberry posted on Facebook that he is in
Taiwan. But I am not mentioning on it on my Michigan blog since I don't want to give
anything Chen Shui-bian says any play prior to the election. That
little sh*t should keep his mouth shut until after Tsai is safely in

US expat in Taiwan a few years

dan said...

and *now*.... in a zen can be told:

the event happened, privately.
there were no news reports on TV or in any of the newspapers today BUT.... a little birdie tells me:

"The visit in prison with former President Chen on Monday afternoon
was amazing, all and more than I anticipated. A top translator, Cheryl, was with
me to translate. I'll give you a fuller report later for yr blog
once I get back to Oreogn. "

Dr Thornberry

Milo Thornberry said...

Hi Stephen! Curious piece! I knew nothing about it. Former President and I could hardly be called "old friends." And whoever wrote the piece had the information wrong that I visited Chen in 2008. Before my visit on December 12, I had seen him only once, and that was in December of 2003.