Sun, Mar 10, 2019 - Page 6 News List

Remembering Huwei brings justice

By Yang Yen-chi 楊彥騏

On Feb. 28, former president Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) went to the 228 Peace Memorial Park in Taipei to pay his respects and bowed at the memorial monument.

However, in interviews about rehabilitation efforts for victims of the Incident, Ma said: “We finished with that a long time ago.”

Transitional justice cannot be considered finished by simply handing out compensation and holding a few commemorative ceremonies. The only way to achieve transitional justice is to review what truly happened and look at the historical truth. This is also the way to pay proper respect to the people who were affected.

On the eve of Feb. 28, 2004, I was fortunate enough to be introduced to Hu Kuo-ting (胡國定), who was caught up in the aftermath of the Incident, through my late elementary-school teacher Su Chin-shun (蘇金順). It was not until then that I learned about the Battle of Huwei Airport in Yunlin County on March 2, 1947, an intense military conflict that played a crucial role in the aftermath of the 228 Incident.

The aftershock of the 228 Incident in Taipei reached what is now Yunlin County’s Huwei Township (虎尾) in the early evening of March 1 that year. The news from Taipei fomented turmoil in downtown Huwei near the old Huwei Theater, where a crowd gathered.

Hu told me that there was a difference of opinion among Huwei residents over how the town should react to the Incident.

Then-Tainan county councilor Yang Chih (楊枝), a Huwei native, proposed a settlement committee to quell the commotion.

Chen Ming-luen (陳明崙), leader of the Huwei branch of the Three Principles Youth Group, wanted to secure the safety of staff, who were from other provinces, in the public sector and at the Huwei Sugar Refinery Plant.

The crowd recommended that Wang Piao (王標) — a member of the local gentry and a physician at Huwei Tzu-chi hospital — lead them to seize guns from the Huwei government office — although it turned out that they did not have firing pins — and from the guards at the sugar factory, form a militia and organize a command post at the Huwei He Tong building.

Early on March 2, the militia launched an assault on the airport, which was being used as a Republic of China Air Force base at the time, and the Battle of Huwei Airport started.

Hsu Mao-tsang (徐茂倉), a member of the Huwei gentry, was assigned command at the front.

However, combat operations were not clearly organized, with more than 20 militias and organizations arriving from various places. They included the Douliu (斗六) militia led by Huang Ching-piao (黃清標), the Beigang (北港) militia led by Yeh Chi-cheng (葉啟城) and Yu Ping-chin (余炳金) and the Siluo (西螺) militia led by Liao Pen-jen (廖本仁), as well as groups from what is now Chiayi County’s Dalin Township (大林), Longyan (龍巖) in Yunlin County’s Baozhong Township (褒忠) and Yuanchang Township (元長) in Yunlin County.

Former Takasago Volunteers — soldiers in the Imperial Japanese Army during the Japanese colonial period recruited from among Aborigines — also joined the fight.

The total number of people engaged differs widely between accounts from several hundred to more than 1,000.

The general situation was chaotic. The Huwei militia even had another command unit led by Wu Chang-keng (吳長庚). The chaotic situation led to infighting and a lack of supplies to the frontline, which resulted in Wu being killed by his own men.

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