Pre-trial and Substitute Prisons

Martial Law Section, 1949~1968 

No. 3 Chingtao East Road, Taipei 

[Sketch of the exterior of the Martial Law Section Detention Center (1949~1968). This sketch was done by Chen Meng-ho in 1997. In 1948, the first time Mr. Chen was arrested, he was held in the Taiwan Security Command Intelligence Section for eight months. Upon release, he learned that his classmate, Liu Tien-fu, who had also been held at the Intelligence Section, had been transferred to the Martial Law Section, so he dashed over there and walked around its perimeter in hopes of catching sight of him. Liu Tien-fu and Chen Meng-ho were arrested again in 1952, in the same case. Three people in the case, including Liu, were executed on 24 August 1952. (sketch by Chen Meng-ho) ]

Located on the site of the present-day Sheraton Hotel (circumscribed by Chunghsiao East Road, Linshen South Road, Chingtao East Road, and Chenchiang Street), this is where the Taiwan Security Command (established 1 September 1949, with Peng Meng-chi as its commander) and the Taiwan Garrison Command (established in 1958, taking over the Taiwan Security Command) had their Martial Law Section and Martial Law Bureau. 


After the summer of 1949, the authorities launched their frenzied campaign for capture of “bandit spies.” The military, police, and intelligence agencies went about nabbing people from all over the island and sending them to Taipei, where they were concentrated in the Security Bureau and the Higashi Honganji Temple for interrogation, after which they were sent to the Martial Law Section for trial. The Martial Law Section kept the White Terror prisoners while they awaited trial. In the early 1950s, because the jail cells were stuffed to overflowing, bedcovers had to be used as fans to disperse the heat and people had to take turns sleeping on their sides. Those sentenced to death were sent to the riverside race track (Machangting) for execution, while those under lifetime detention were mainly sent to the military prison (Ankeng) , Sindien, south of Taipei County, or the Green Island New Life Correction Center.  

The Martial Law Section was divided into east and west facilities, the Martial Law Bureau and Martial Law Section, respectively. These were the living hell where, between 1949 and 1968, life-and-death decisions were made. From the mid-1950s the Martial Law Section, on behalf of the prisons, required those political prisoners whose sentences had already been decided to work outside the prison, setting up laundry, sewing andhandicraft facilities, as well as a construction and carpentry brigade. The latter worked on early stages of the Chingmei Detention Center construction.  

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