Thu, Feb 24, 2005 - Page 8 News List

Never forget the lessons of Feb. 28

By Wang Mei-hsiu王美琇

On Feb. 28, we would like to declare to people around the world the significance of Taiwan's existence. We will make this declaration on that day because it is a day of special significance for Taiwan. Fifty-eight years ago on that day, Taiwan was the scene of a terrible massacre. Because of this event, Taiwanese are still filled with fear, anger and an irrepressible energy to oppose those who oppress them. From this event on, Taiwan has declared war on tyrannical government. The 228 Incident is one of the most painful memories of Taiwan's history, and was a painful lesson of what it means to fall under foreign rule. It was also a milestone marking a point of no return in our struggle to achieve democracy.

On the coming anniversary of the 228 Incident we wish to declare that Taiwan, without the agreement of the entire public, will never allow any other country or any individual to dictate its fate or its future.

Taiwan was not a nation that arose free and equal. In the 400 years of Taiwan's history, we have never been an independent country, and have always been ruled by foreign powers or governments. The people of Taiwan have never known what it is to be free. It was not till the beginning of the 20th century that our ancestors came into contact with liberal intellectuals, introduced democratic ideas and began a process of stubborn resistance to colonial government. Although this battle ended in defeat, they managed to sow the seeds of a democratic revolution. This was the prelude to Taiwan's battle for democracy at the end of the Japanese occupation period.

After World War II, the defeated Japanese pulled out their troops that had ruled Taiwan for 50 years. The Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) then took over Taiwan and another period of colonial rule followed. However, the Taiwanese remained defiant and the call for democratic revolution never ceased. Under such circumstances, Taiwan's valiant and democratic revolutionaries, despite the KMT's highly oppressive totalitarian rule, opposed and challenged the illegitimate regime. Between 1947 and 1987, the unarmed people of Taiwan experienced the 228 Incident and endured the decades of the notorious White Terror. Tens of thousands of civilians were killed, and tens of thousands were jailed, given prison sentences totalling more than 100,000 years. We paid with the youth and lives of several generations, and tens of thousands of families were ruined. This is the bloody history of how the Taiwanese people won their democracy and freedom. This is the price of freedom.

Taiwan only became a democratic and free country in the last ten years of the last century. That is, it has been less than two decades since we had the first taste of democracy. We cherish this hard-won achievement. Now we are faced with a ferocious China, deploying 700 missiles targeting Taiwan, and threatening to annex the country. To make matters worse, the US, the world's only superpower, often tells us to behave ourselves. Both the US and China have a serious impact on the survival and development of Taiwan and a tremendous impact on our future.

We understand that in view of its national interests, the US must interact with a China that is growing stronger than ever, and do so in ways that are mutually beneficial to both countries. We cannot, however, accept Taiwan's being treated as a pawn and being sacrificed in this power game. We are certainly willing to associate with China as a brother nation and establish dialogue and exchange, but we can never accept China's intention to annex Taiwan and make Taiwan part of China.

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