Fri, Mar 01, 2002 - Page 1 News List

228 victims' families urge action

REMEMBERING On the 55th anniversary of the incident, there were calls for those perpetrators who are still alive to be identified and for school textbooks to be revised

By Lin Chieh-yu  /  STAFF REPORTER

President Chen Shui-bian bows his head in silence, along with relatives of victims of the 228 Incident, during a memorial ceremony in Taipei yesterday.

PHOTO: REUTERS

Relatives of those killed 55 years ago in a ruthless crackdown on dissent by Chiang Kai-shek's (蔣介石) regime yesterday asked for surviving perpetrators to apologize and for the government to record the incident in school textbooks.

"The former KMT administration and some politicians always say that people should forgive the past and just look beyond the tragedy," said Chang A-mang (張阿滿), a representative of an organization supporting the families of those killed in the crackdown, known as the 228 Incident.

"But the one concern of all the relatives is that the regime that caused the historic tragedy has failed to admit its responsibility," Chang said as he addressed a memorial ceremony in front of the Presidential Office.

He said that although former president Lee Teng-hui (李登輝) and President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) had both apologized on behalf of the government, the relatives could still not forgive because surviving perpetrators of the oppression remain unknown and silent.

Chang and others also urged the government to amend school textbooks -- which remain tainted by KMT efforts to gloss over the event -- to reflect the facts of the incident.

Chen called on the people of Taiwan to unite and share their compassion, love and forgiveness.

"In the beginning of the new century, we need to promise to love one another and to swear that all the nation's peoples will strive together," Chen said.

Chen, Peng Ming-min (彭明敏), a senior advisor to the president, and hundreds of victims' relatives prayed in silence and held umbrellas in formation to make a giant "228."

Other official memorial activities were held in Taipei City and Chiayi City, two major venues of dissent and suppression during the notorious crackdown.

Taipei Mayor Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) placed lilies, a symbol of the nation's vitality, on the 228 memorial in the city in memory of Taipei's victims.

Appealing for "ethnic reconciliation," Premier Yu Shyi-kun sounded the "Bell of Peace" in Chiayi.

"The day 228 symbolizes the meaning of `ethnic integration' in Taiwan," Yu said, "and I now announce that February 28 will be a holiday in the future."

The date was proclaimed an optional day off last year, but on the condition that organizations observing it work the following Saturday instead.

To the strains of an orchestra and chorus, Yu and Chiayi City Mayor Chen Li-chen (陳麗貞) spooned water from a pool in the city's 228 Peace Park, which they poured onto wild lilies in a ritual symbolizing ethnic harmony. Many relatives wept openly.

Many other cities commemorated the incident yesterday, as political leaders appealed to the nation not to be embittered by grief.

The 228 Incident was a military crackdown on civilian protests that broke out on Feb. 28, 1947, against the KMT administration. Historians estimate that around 30,000 people were killed.

Thousands of Taiwan's most prominent citizens and leading intellectuals were dragged from their homes and killed, or vanished without explanation as the KMT waged war against the island's Japanese-educated intelligentsia.

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