绿岛、夜曲与人权/Green Island of Taiwan, Serenade, and Human Rights
Updated: Jul 30
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At 7:00 am, I was waiting for the passenger boat to Green Island at Fugang Fishing Port in Taitung City.
While waiting for the boat, a Taiwanese girl beside me told me that the boat to Green Island was not a good ride because of the big waves. I initially thought she was just saying and did not think much of it, but also very proud to joke with her, "It's okay, and I am not afraid. I've got used to "big wind and big waves" in life, and since childhood, I've developed a mania for high places, so I really enjoy playing Jumpers, pirate ships, or roller coasters, and the boat should also be no problem for me." The girl heard me say so, and the corners of her mouth immediately revealed a secret smile.
Sure enough, I sat on the boat, only to have the opportunity to see what is the real "big wind and big waves. A few years ago I traveled from Zhanjiang to Haikou in China by ship, but the ferry ship is particularly huge. It could not only take thousands of passengers but was also loaded with hundreds of cars, so the effect of wind and waves was not obvious at all. But this boat to Green Island is not very big, so the Pacific Ocean wind and waves created bumps beyond imagination, definitely stronger than the effect of any roller coaster, pirate ship, or jumping machine that I had previously ridden. The boat is not at all like the fish in the water as leisurely swim, but like a big bird in a constant dash, dive, tumble.
Many people going to Green Island by boat for the first time can not imagine how fierce the waves can be, and they tend to be not mentally prepared. The whole trip was an hour and a half, and the cabin scene was spectacular: hoarse screams were heard one after another; 80% of the people on the boat were holding trash cans or carrying plastic bags and throwing up; 19% of the people had painful facial expressions, sweaty faces, and grimaces leaning back in their seats. I was the remaining 1%. What was I doing? I was pulling on the armrests of the seat back, following the up and down movement of the ship, and doing constant "squatting" exercises to cushion the super huge waves with the flexion and extension of my legs. A few crew members have long been accustomed to such wind and waves, calmly chatting, they saw my actions, laughing on the side. Oops! In order not to vomit and not be dizzy, I couldn't care so much.
An hour and a half passed and the boat finally docked at Green Island. I didn't get dizzy, and I didn't throw up. But my legs became weak, exhausted, and extremely sore after one and a half hours of non-stop squatting. I regretted it after I got off the boat, I might as well have thrown up. I originally planned to hike on Green Island, but I had no choice but to rent a scooter so I can ride an "electric donkey" around Green Island.
Before that, my impression of Green Island only came from the melodious love song "Green Island Serenade", but this trip to Green Island let me know a completely different Green Island.
The "Green Island Serenade" depicts a beautiful and warm Green Island:
"This Green Island is like a boat,
rocking in the moonlit night,
and you, girl, are floating in the sea of my heart,
let my song follow the breeze,
blowing open your curtains,
let my love follow the flowing water,
and keep telling you.
The long shadow of the coconut tree
can't hide my feelings,
the bright moonlight illuminates my heart,
the night of Green Island has been so quiet,
girl, why are you still silent."
However, in reality, the function and role of Green Island for half a century is not as beautiful and warm as in the song, which can be seen in the other fierce name of Green Island: "Fire-burning Island". Because the ocean is like natural prison bars, Green Island has become the perfect place to set up a prison. Over the past hundred years, prisons of different kinds have been established on the island one after another. As early as 1911 (Meiji 44), the Japanese built the first prison on the island, the "Fire Island Floaters' Shelter," and after 1950, a variety of prisons were established, making Fire Island a synonym for prison, as mysterious as Alcatraz.
Many countries had precedents for imprisoning prisoners on remote islands, and Green Island became the first choice for prisons at that time. Taiwan was originally a Japanese colony, and then the Nationalist government retreated to Taiwan after World War II. After the turmoil of the 228 incident in 1947, the Nationalist regime declared martial law in Taiwan on May 19, 1949, and continued until July 15, 1987, when it was lifted.
This 38-year history of martial law is also a history of Taiwan's blood and tears: people were deprived of their lives, property, and freedom, civilians were convicted of espionage and "rebellion" under the martial law trial system, and political prisoners were arrested, trialed, tortured, imprisoned, released, and put under social surveillance. During that period, however, the people of Taiwan never gave up their faith and hope and spent their lives and youth fighting for freedom, social rights, and economic rights, and pursuing equality, justice, democracy, and freedom. This process has built the history of human rights in Taiwan today and has created the foundation of democracy and freedom in Taiwan today.
The lyrics of "Green Island Serenade" have long been rumored to be a love letter from a convict in prison on Green Island, originally intended to be used in a movie, but it was not successful. The Malayan newspapers also described the song as a love letter from a jealous murderer to his girlfriend in prison, which was very touching. In those days of underdeveloped information, this popular song, full of poignant stories, won the sympathy of many people and was so widely circulated that everyone thought the story was true.
The song was co-written by two hosts of the music group of Taiwan's Central Broadcasting Company. The song was very sensitive during the "martial law era" in Taiwan, as it seemed to express sympathy for the prisoners on Green Island, so the two hosts were investigated by the authorities, but they were not found to have any problems. Subsequently, more singers sang the song, making it more popular and at one point it became one of the representatives of Taiwan's impressions, and many Taiwanese who were far away from home would sing it loudly together when they gathered to express their longing for their homeland.
On December 10, 1999, the Green Island Human Rights Memorial was inaugurated to commemorate the political victims of the White Terror. The names on the monument were inscribed with the consent of the victims. It symbolizes the path of human rights that each of the victims took during that era, and each one has a moving story.
This is Green Island, a name to remember. This is the "Green Island Serenade," which is still sung by many people today. It is not about love and affection, but a timeless symbol of the history of human rights.
I rode around Green Island twice on a rented scooter. Politics and history aside, the scenery of Green Island is truly enchanting. However, those "criminals" who committed "trumped-up" crimes back then, were they in the mood to enjoy this stunning scenery? There must be a wider world in their hearts!
In the evening, I still took the same boat back to Taitung, and I still "squatted" for an hour and a half without interruption. Whether it's fainting, vomiting, or weak legs, there will always be a pain in life, so just choose a pain that you like.