President Tsai, ex-South African leader discuss transitional justice

Taipei, Oct. 10 (CNA)-President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) on Wednesday exchanged views with former South African President Frederik Willem de Klerk on issues related to delivering transitional justice and strengthening democracy.

“Although Taiwan is a mature democracy, confronting our dark history remains a challenge,” Tsai said to de Klerk before their meeting Wednesday. “It’s fortunate for us that South Africa has already taken on these tasks, providing for us a source of inspiration.”

De Klerk was the last president of apartheid-era South Africa. He worked with Nelson Mandela to end the country’s system of racial segregation and to usher in multiracial democracy, for which they were jointly awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993.

Tsai said de Klerk showed moral courage in the face of adversaries who were opposed to his defiance against apartheid, and that she was looking forward to seeking his advice on the subject in their upcoming meeting.

De Klerk is on his ninth visit to Taiwan at the invitation of the Taiwan Foundation for Democracy to speak at a seminar on the consolidation of democracy and to attend the National Day celebrations.

In Tsai’s opening remarks, she briefed de Klerk on the progress her administration has made in its transitional justice efforts, which she said are aimed at addressing the legacies of human rights abuses perpetuated under the authoritarian rule of the Kuomintang (KMT) regime, including the harm inflicted on the indigenous people.

The truth of that part of Taiwan’s history, marred by human rights violations, has not been fully recovered, while the perpetrators remain unknown, and judicial redress has not been achieved 30 years after the end of martial law, she said.

Furthermore, she said, many people in Taiwan who suffered injustice are still unable to move on from their grief and the society has not been able to achieve true reconciliation. Tsai said transitional justice is a value that Taiwan and South Africa share, as are democracy and peace.

She expressed the hope that there will be more opportunities for cooperation and exchanges between Taiwan and the government and society of South Africa as well as the FW de Klerk Foundation, a nonpartisan organization that was established in 2000 by the former South African president.