At a Human Rights Day commemoration in Taipei on December 10th 2017, Dr. Gerrit van der Wees and his wife Meichin were honored by Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen for their work in support of human rights and democracy in Taiwan in the 1970s and 1980s. Van der Wees teaches History of Taiwan in the Department of History and Art History. Last year the van der Wees’ contributions were profiled in the Taipei Times.
The day was a celebration of the major progress Taiwan has made in terms of human rights and democracy since the lifting of Martial Law in 1987 and the momentous transition to democracy in 1992. Van der Wees, his wife, and six others from Japan and Taiwan were acknowledged by Taiwan’s President at a ceremony in Taipei attended by some 150 former political prisoners. President Tsai recently posted a story on the event on her presidential Facebook page (here).
The meeting was also designated to highlight recently-passed Transitional Justice legislation, mandating a Truth and Reconciliation process to cover the period of repressive Martial Law (1949-1987).
While in Taiwan, Van der Wees also gave a talk at the Taiwan Ocean Nation Foundation annual convention, where he elaborated on the concept of “Taiwan Ocean Nation”, highlighting the fact that in its long history, the country was often connected more closely to the Pacific and South East Asia than to China:
April 18, 2018