Save the Losheng Sanatorium for the Lost Soul

2007-03-14 - torrent

Author: Liu Kwang-Yin

In the beginning of the 20th century, a colonial era when Taiwan was still part of Japan, Losheng Leprosy Sanatorium was built by the regime to house leprosy patients, whose mystic disease was considered by most people to be highly contagious.

Overwhelming fear swept the nation, forcing the inflicted ones into lifelong quarantine. No one spoke out for them, because the healthy ones feared not only for the disease, but also for the merciless colonial laws.

Patients who survived, no longer infectious, became residents at the sanatorium, where they spent most of their lives. Since their family, friends and lovers had long forsaken them, the Losheng Sanatorium became their new heaven, and the only one there was.

In 1945, the Japanese regime withdrew from Taiwan, while the KMT from mainland China took over the island. The Losheng residents stayed where they were, because that was where their lives were; besides, no one seemed enthusiastic to speak out for their trauma, to ask for compensation for all those lost years.

Some Things Change, While Some Never Do

Half a century later, in 2004, the Taipei city government filed an order to tear down Losheng Sanatorium because they planned to build a metro line through it. The government offered a new building for the Losheng residents, most of whom had no wish to leave their home.

This time, some people decided to speak out for them.

The Losheng Youths cooperated with the residents in protests against the official order, organizing movements and concerts in the past few years, arousing more people to pay attention to their dire situation.

Their efforts did not pass unnoticed, at least not in Japan. On Oct. 25, 2005, Tokyo District Court decided to compensate leprosy patients who were treated inhumanely on Japanese colonies, including those at Losheng Sanatorium in Taipei.

However, just a few days ago, a major confrontation broke out in front of the house of Prime Minister Su Tseng-chang. Because the Executive Yuan, headed by Su, has recently ordered Taipei city government to demolish Losheng, and its residents should leave within seven days, the Losheng Youths, along with Losheng residents gathered to tell the minister, "We don't want to be forced away!"

According to local government procedure, Losheng will be demolished before the middle of April. Right now there is a solution by which 90 percent of Losheng can be preserved but Prime Minister Su refuses to adopt the solution because if pressure from interest groups.

Urgent Call for Attention

The Losheng Sanatorium is historical for its years of silenced pain and memorable because of its suppressed souls. The residents are old, weak and much too alone to fight against the will of the nation, even with the angry youths, who appear fragile in the face of police power.

They need more people to speak for them, not only from Taiwan, but also from wherever you are.

Please sign the Online petition

Read further:

Forgotten voices: 60 years on, Japan's hidden victims win compensation (8 Nov 2005)
Losheng Sanatorium on Wikipedia:englishChinese
GVO:Taiwan: bloggers act on saving Lo-Sheng Sanatorium (11 Mar 2007)

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