Wed, Feb 28, 2001 - Page 1 News List

Chen opens records from 228 Incident

UNCOVERING THE TRUTH The president wants to shed more light on Taiwan's post-war history, and has asked that previously unreleased documents relating to some of the more controversial historical events be opened

By Lin Chieh-yu  /  STAFF REPORTER

Wang Cheng-tung, third left, cries as he touches a statue of his father, Wang Tien-teng, yesterday during the ceremony for the statue at Taipei's 228 Memorial Hall. Following the 228 Incident, the elder Wang chaired a committee that demanded political reform. He delivered a radio speech asking all Taiwanese to continue with their fight, but on the night of March 9, 1947, he was dragged from his bed and burned to death.

PHOTO: CHEN CHENG-CHANG, TAIPEI TIMES

On the eve of the 54th anniversary of the 288 Incident, President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) yesterday urged the Academia Historica (國史館) to compile all official documents about Taiwan's modern history.

Chen urged the government to make the histories of the incident and records from the "White Terror" era (白色恐怖時期) and the Kaohsiung Incident (美麗島事件) public as soon as possible.

"We should restore the real face of Taiwan's history, and bring about a just and fair society by way of researching these historical documents," Chen said yesterday while visiting Academia Historica.

The government will today open a 10-day exhibition that will make public long-sealed documents from the 228 Incident archive.

"The 228 Incident is a very important event in Taiwan's post World War II history, and many historians have appealed to the government to release them," Chen said.

"The exhibition will make public parts of documents taken from more than 50,000 documents, which were collected from more than 40 institutes during the past half year," Chen said.

The 228 Incident was a brutal military crackdown on civilian protests that broke out on Feb. 28, 1947 against the KMT administration on Taiwan. The actual number of people killed and missing remains unknown, but some have placed the figure in the tens of thousands.

During the White Terror period from 1949 -- when the KMT forces lost the Chinese Civil War to the Communists -- to 1987, when martial law was lifted, thousands of Taiwan's most prominent citizens and leading intellectuals were dragged from their homes to be killed or vanish without explanation as the KMT waged war against Taiwan's Japanese-educated intelligentsia.

The president said he had also found many other important archives in Academia Historica's confidential storeroom, "Such as the archives of presidents Chiang Kai-shek (蔣介石) and Chiang Ching-kuo's (蔣經國), and even some about the history of Formosa Magazine," Chen said.

Members of the magazine advocated democratic reform and were arrested by the government for being involved in the Kaohsiung Incident of 1979.

"These precious documents record the real face of Taiwan's recent history and they should be made public because they belong to all of the country's people," the president added.

Chen stressed that the government must compile these documents and prevent them from being illegally destroyed.

"Academia Historica should immediately set up a complete archive to preserve these documents about the White Terror era and the Kaohsiung Incident, which will help historians learn about the real face of that age," Chen said.

One of Chen's campaign promises was to investigate some of the major events surrounding human rights issues and the democratic movement that occurred during previous KMT administrations, and make them public.

The Executive Yuan's Research, Development and Evaluation Commission was charged with implementing Chen's promise after his inauguration last May.

"The exhibition of 228 Incident archives is just the first step," said Lin Chia-cheng (林嘉誠), chairman of the commission. "We will continue to try our best to collect more documents to help restore truth to history."

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