Taiwan Trasitional Justice:How the government systematically turns people into political prisoners

Country/area: Taiwan

Organisation: READr

Organisation size: Small

Publication date: 31 Oct 2020

Credit: Pei-Yu Chen , Yi-Chian Chen, Kai-Wen Hsiung, Li-Yi Lu, Wen-Yen Chen, Siang-Yun Syu, Wei-Kai Lin, Yu-Ju Lee, Hsin-Chan Chieh

Project description:

The Taiwan Transitional Justice Commission established online database which has records and photographs of victims of political persecution during the White Terror Period. In order to figure out how the victims were oppressed and who the oppressors were,we analyze the data such as gender, years of birth, residence and the trial process. Moreover, we interview 4 people who were arrested, interrogated, charged, or imprisoned during the martial law period.They share their stories about the life in jail and afterward.

Impact reached:

1949, the Kuomintang Party was defeated by the Communist Party of China and moved the central government to Taiwan. To consolidate its authoritarian rule, the government promulgated the Martial Law and a brutal repression ensued, with tens of thousands of intellectuals, social elites, and dissidents believed to have been secretly tried, jailed, or murdered.

The Taiwan Transitional Justice Commission collected a large amount of data which revealed information about victims and those who took part in the persecutions and what they did.

However, the online database is too complicated to use because most people don’t even know the victims’ name, so they have no clue to search for anything. Therefore, we analyzed all the data by different subsets, such as gender, charge, and other details about the victims.

For example, according to the database, both Taiwanese and Mainlanders were political criminal, with Taiwanese accounting for 55% of cases and Mainlanders 45%. This feature tried to use data to make the history of White Terror Period more easier to learn and provide diverse research perspectives.

Techniques/technologies used:

This project is divided into two parts: data section and character section.

First, Data-Section in this project is made by Svelte and Pixi.js to implement a scroll-telling story with sprites of butterfly, scroll-telling is a well-known story form which is better for producing chart-based story, due to the chart is fixed on the main position of the web page, and each section of the story only have one main position, and is easy for implement in the year 2020 due to we can just using the “sticky” CSS position value. Moreover, by using sprite feature of the Pixi.js, we can easy integrate the data of the project with visualization which have the great amount of elements with custom image in the web page, but stay in the better performance. All these features creater a better experience when reading a numerous page elements, scroll-telling story.

On the other hand, Character-Section contains 4 interviewees’ detailed stories, which have large amount of text. So a fixed navigation bar on the screen top, and character’s thumbnail/info fixed on the screen left are needed. Not only can lead the readers focus on certain screen area, but also improve their user experience.

Mosaic-peeling-off-animation is made with Pixi.js. Divide a large mosaic image to thousands pieces via Pixi’s Sprite feature, add dropping animation in random direction, velocity and fade-out speed on each of pieces. This special “fading” effect not only brings out the story of the four characters, but also shows the historical significance of the White Terror Period.

What was the hardest part of this project?

There are more than 10000 victims’ files in the Taiwan Transitional Justice Database. Every single detail of the data is about a man or woman that has gone through, so it’s so hard to classify all the information by using Rstudio. Therefore, we used R to clean the raw data at the beginning and spent plenty of time identifying the data manually. For instance, the former president Chiang Kai-shek sometimes commanded to aggravate the victims’ sentence even though he approved the judgment. As a result, it’s necessary to double check whether the classification is correct or not.

What can others learn from this project?

During the White Terror Period, hundreds of thousands of people have suffered extremely because of unreasonable military justices. The feature should be responsible to provide the picture to the public to have a better understanding of the cases and help further academic study, as well as providing names of individuals and their actions during the trials.

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