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Tsai vows to uphold democracy, freedom at 228 memorial service

President Tsai Ing-wen pledged Feb. 28 to always uphold the values of democracy and freedom, spotlighting the government’s commitment to truth and reconciliation in the pursuit of transitional justice.
 
Democratic Taiwan has come a long way from the era of authoritarian rule, Tsai said. Efforts to face up to the country’s past are beginning to bear fruit, as demonstrated by an online database listing victims of government persecution launched by the Transitional Justice Commission last year, she added.
 
Tsai made the remarks during an event marking the 74th anniversary of the February 28 Incident held at Kaohsiung Museum of History in the southern Taiwan city. She also took the opportunity to offer her condolences on behalf of the government to victims of the incident and their surviving family members.
 
The 228 Incident of 1947 occurred when protesters demanded reforms from the government. When these went unmet, people around Taiwan demonstrated, prompting the arrival of military reinforcements from China who killed many during the ensuing crackdown.
 
According to Tsai, raising awareness of human rights is key to the pursuit of transitional justice. The government’s commitment in this regard is underscored by the establishment of the National Human Rights Commission last year as per the Paris Principles adopted in 1993 by the U.N. General Assembly, she said.
 
Only when diverse voices are allowed to be heard can these rights be protected, Tsai said, adding that the nonnegotiable values of democracy and freedom are key to Taiwan’s continued development.
 
Promoting transitional justice and safeguarding human rights were vital planks in Tsai’s campaign platform. Since taking office in May 2016, the president and her administration have implemented a raft of measures to redress past injustices.
 
These include clearing victims of charges, offering compensation and passing legislation to bring the country’s related laws in line with the U.N. International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. (YCH-E)
 
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