Tutu gives Taiwan a Lesson in Transitional Justice
China Times editorial
translated by Bevin Chu
April 27, 2007
During his recent trip to Taiwan, former South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu shared South Africa's experience with the pursuit of transitional justice. To people from all walks of life, he stressed the importance of forgiveness and reconciliation. For Taiwan, which has also experienced ethnic antagonisms, Tutu's suggestion is worth heeding.
South Africa's situation is similar to Taiwan's in certain respects. In the past, political power remained firmly in the hands of the white minority. With the end of apartheid in 1994, the white South Africa government relinquished its hold on political power, and the African National Congress (ANC), led by Nelson Mandela, assumed power.
Even though South Africa experienced an earth-shaking change in its system, society did not descend into chaos, bloodshed, or an orgy of retaliation. Credit must be given to Mandela's warmth and openness, and to former president F.W. de Klerk's wisdom and courage. Tutu's long term criticism of ethnic apartheid, promotion of South African democratization, demands for the restoration of truth about South Africa's history, the dissolving of racial hatred, also deserve credit. One of the most important tasks following South Africa's political transition, was to reverse and compensate past injustices, in other words, implement "transitional justice." Hence the establishment of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, with Tutu as president. Past victims of persecution appeared and testified one after the other, restoring the truth about South Africa's history, healing wounds, restoring justice, reaffirming society's norms and values, and serving as a warning to future generations.
The forgiveness and reconciliation Tutu mentioned is the foundation by which South Africa maintains social harmony and pursues national growth. Following political transition, no matter how large the gap between ethnic groups and political parties might be, everyone agrees that ethnic harmony must be maintained and any words or deeds inciting ethnic conflict must be opposed. By the same token, forgiveness and reconciliation must be Taiwan's way to dissolve differences and defuse hostilities.
Archbishop Tutu, who accepted a Taiwan Foundation for Democracy invitation to visit, made numerous statements awakening people to the truth. For example, while speaking with Lin Yi-hsiung, members of the audience asked, how can we reconcile when we haven't uncovered the murderer in the Lin Family Murder Case? Tutu responded that to forgive is something one can do on one's own initiative, that if one insists on waiting until the victimizer apologizes, then the victim will remain under the control of others forever.
The harm done to the victim by the victimizer can be divided into two kinds. The first kind is immediate violence or oppression. The second kind is long term trauma, rage, and anxiety. The victim cannot control the reality of the immediate violence or oppression. But the trauma, rage, and anxiety are phenomenon the victim can heal and overcome. It is not necessary to wallow in past grievances. It is even less necessary to be immobilized by rage and anxiety.
The victim often perceives himself as the weaker party, tends toward passivity, and thinks of the victimizer as the primary subject. Besides demanding punishment and compensation, the victim is seldom conscious of what he ought to do. Naturally, making excessive demands upon the victim is overly harsh. But in the process of pursuing transitional justice on Taiwan, we hope not only to restore justice and equality, to leave behind an example for later generations, but also to establish a happy home. We consider the act of exploiting ethnicity as a label, as a price, or even as a tool, a crime we must never repeat.
The responsibility of the victimizer is of course heaver. If one constantly shifts responsibility onto others, if one cannot face one's past mistakes, if one refuses to engage in self-introspection, if one refuses to apologize to and compensate the victim, then one can never escape the shadows of the past, never be free from accusations and condemnation, and never win the public trust.
During the "International Symposium on Transitional Justice and National Reconciliation" Tutu pointed out that people need merciful and gentle treatment, that the past will not simply vanish. If one refuses to acknowledge the past, the past will return to haunt us. The universe is just. Right and wrong will make themselves known. It may not look that way on the surface, but justice will prevail.
Long term political struggles have undermined Taiwan's ethnic harmony. But if victimizers are unwilling to engage in self-introspection and offer sincere apologies, and if victims remain mired in past grievances, then what will we bequeath ourselves and our children, other than a recurring legacy of trauma and rage?
If on the contrary, when faced with historical mistakes, one can find the courage to face one's responsibilities, if one is willing to open one's heart and forgive, if one is willing to overcome historical grievances and start anew, then one can liberate oneself from the bonds of the past and discover new opportunities for Taiwan's future. If South Africa, with its racial differences and color differences can strive for racial harmony and mutal prosperity, then Taiwan, with its homogeneous society, has no reason to adopt a policy of "kill or be killed."
The mistakes of history must not be forgotten. Victimizers must not be let off lightly, because the refusal to distinguish between right and wrong will sap a society's vitality. But even as we remember history, we must ask ourselves whether a society's cohesiveness and a nation's unity are to be founded on hatred, suspicion and rejection, or on love, tolerance, and reconciliation?
Original Chinese below:
南 非的狀況其實和台灣有點類似，過去政權長期掌握在少數白人族群手中，一九九四年種族隔離政策終結後，白人政府讓出政權，曼德拉率領的非洲民族議會黨 （ＡＮＣ）接手執政。南非雖然經歷天翻地覆的體制變更，社會卻未陷入混亂失序或流血報復。這當然要歸功於曼德拉的溫暖開闊，和前總統戴克拉克的睿智與勇 氣。而屠圖長期以來批判種族隔離政策、推動南非民主化、還原歷史真相、化解族群恩怨的努力，同樣居功厥偉。
接 受民主基金會邀請訪台的屠圖大主教，近日來在台灣發表了不少發人深省的談話。例如與林義雄對談時，有與會者質疑，沒有找到真相，如同林宅血案沒有凶手時， 又該如何和解？屠圖勉勵說，寬恕是可以主動的，如果必須等到加害者道歉，那受害者就永遠會受到控制。受害者應該主動把寬恕的禮物給別人，才不會永遠留在受 害者的角色。
的確，加害者對受害者的傷害有兩種。第一種是當下的暴力或壓迫，第二種是長期遺留的創傷、憤怒與恐懼。對於暴力傷害壓迫的事 實，受害者當時既不能控制，事後也無法抹滅，但創傷、憤怒與恐懼，受害者卻是可以癒療及超越的，不一定要永遠被過去的傷痛淹沒，更不一定要永遠被憎恨恐懼 捆綁得動彈不得。
受害者往往心態上自覺是弱者，傾向於被動、以加害者為主體對象的思考方式。除了要求加害者受到懲罰及提供賠償外，很少意 識到自己也該做些什麼。當然，過度要求受害者也失之嚴苛，但在台灣追求轉型正義的過程中，我們不僅希望重建公平正義的價值坐標，為後世留下可供遵循的良好 典範，也希望構建一個和諧幸福的美好家園。而曾經以族群為標籤、為代價、甚至為工具的各種可恥罪行，我們既覺昨日之非，當然務求永不重蹈覆轍。
相 反地，如果在面對歷史過錯時，能展現出勇氣與負責態度；如果願打開胸襟主動給予寬恕，勇敢跨越歷史傷痕重新出發，不僅能解開捆綁台灣的繩索，也能為台灣的 將來開拓新的機會。如果種族膚色不同的南非，都願努力追尋族群的共存共榮，那麼同文同種的台灣社會，更沒有理由必須廝殺得你死我活。