Feb. 28 must be one of the days marked on President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) calendar as days on which he must speak carefully and, perhaps, apologize as president and Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) chairman, for all the wrong reasons — such as the 228 Massacre being “people rebelling against misgovernment.”
It is easy to imagine Ma breathing a sigh of relief when March comes around, since he can then ignore calls for the government and his party to seek the truth behind the ruthless massacre and to apologize for the right reasons for at least another year.
Not so fast.
March 8 — which was also International Women’s Day — marked the anniversary of the beginning of the “March Crackdown,” which has been described as the second, although most important, part of the massacre.
On March 8, 1947, the Nationalist Army’s 21st Division arrived in Keelung and began shelling the port and shooting at residents even before landing. During the next three months, Chiang Kai-shek’s (蔣介石) troops scoured the island and wiped out an entire generation of Taiwanese elites.
For many victims and their families, it is a date they can never forget, and so it should be for the government and the KMT.
However, the Ma administration could not care less about the facts, instead pretending that the crackdown never took place.
Marches involving tens of thousands people on that day — Saturday this year — in cities around Taiwan have given March 8 another meaning: marking opposition to the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant in Gongliao District (貢寮), New Taipei City.
For the third year since Japan’s 2011 Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant accident, Taiwanese are asking the government to not only suspend the construction of the Gongliao plant, but phase out nuclear power altogether, citing the potential of a nuclear disaster in earthquake-prone Taiwan and the incompetence of Taiwan Power Co (Taipower).
The Ma administration has said that while nuclear safety is crucial, the concerns of the nuclear skeptics have never been an issue and Taiwan must have atomic energy.
A different group took to the streets on Sunday, one day before the annual Tibetan Uprising Day, to commemorate Tibetan resistance against a Chinese invasion in 1959 and to raise awareness that Chinese suppression of Tibetan culture and religion remains ongoing.
Supporters of the democratic movements in Tibet and East Turkestan, now known as the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region in China, have always had a strong presence in Taiwan because they feel that the three places share similar histories of Chinese oppression and exist under the same threat from the Chinese Communist Party.
That is why these supporters hoped that Taiwan, as a beacon of democracy in Asia, would advocate human rights and the right of self-determination more than any other country in the world.
However, the Ma administration has never shown support for the movements in Tibet and East Turkestan. Nor has it addressed the issues with Beijing during the past six years of “significantly relaxed” cross-strait relations — despite more than 100 Tibetans having committed suicide by setting themselves on fire over the past two years.
A well-known Chinese poem written during the Tiananmen Square protests in 1989 described the authoritarian Chinese regime like this: “Cover your eyes so you think you would not see. Cover your ears so you think you would not hear.”