Mon, Mar 05, 2018 - Page 6 News List

Wear wounds as badge of honor

By Lee Min-yung 李敏勇

This year marks the 71st anniversary of the 228 Incident, which started after one of two Tobacco Monopoly Bureau agents confiscating contraband cigarettes in Taipei on Feb. 27, 1947, hit an illegal vendor on the head, fired his gun into the crowd and killed a bystander.

The conflict quickly spread across Taiwan and the Taiwan Provincial Administrative Executive Office used its colonial rule to placate the public by negotiating with the local gentry, while asking for military assistance from Chiang Kai-shek (蔣介石), then based in Nanjing.

After the troops arrived, they started a massacre across Taiwan and arrested many local leaders, while also taking the opportunity to kill Taiwanese intellectuals and members of the cultural and social elite.

Taiwan’s post-war tragedy began when the nation was not given its independence immediately after the end of the World War II and it had to submit to occupation by the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) regime. The 228 Massacre is a horrifying historical monument to death and destruction. The Taiwanese public, having looked forward to being part of the “Motherland” and having just celebrated the return of the Republic of China, was left with a wound that would never heal.

Forty years after the Incident, the public, rather than the government, launched the 228 Justice and Peace Movement, and it took another 10 years for the government, represented by then-president Lee Teng-hui (李登輝), to apologize to the victims.

Following the 228 Incident, the KMT regime, led by Chiang Kai-shek and his son Chiang Ching-kuo (蔣經國), used martial law to suppress Taiwanese society for a long time. However, the massacre resulted in an accumulation of energy just waiting to explode: the dream of a Taiwan independent from China.

People used to metaphorically speak of the successive colonial governments of Imperial Japan and the KMT, saying that “after the dogs left, the pigs came.”

Fleeing from China, the KMT regime demanded that the Taiwanese public join the fight against communism and to retake China.

Yet the KMT has never sincerely faced the tragic consequences of the 228 Massacre, nor does it ever reflect on its guilt and past misconduct. The KMT never intended to establish a genuinely democratic and free Taiwan, but rather aspired to consolidate its party-state regime, a mentality that remains even after Feb. 28 was designated a public memorial day to commemorate one of the most painful anti-government protests by Taiwanese.

After using the fight against communism as an excuse to implement decades of martial law, and although democracy and freedom have become part of Taiwan’s mainstream political values and there is hope of Taiwan rebuilding itself as a new nation, the KMT ingratiates itself with the People’s Republic of China, which still intends to annex the KMT’s “China.”

The shadow of the 228 nightmare continues to loom over Taiwan and it will not disappear because of a public memorial day.

Having undergone Japanese colonization and the subsequent semi-colonization by the KMT’s Chinese regime, Taiwan’s modern and contemporary history bears countless agonizing imprints of different foreign regimes.

The political and cultural lessons for the public are to reflect upon history, remember the wounds of past shackles and construct a genuine Taiwanese identity.

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