President Chen Shui-bian (
Chen made the remarks at a commemorative ceremony marking the 59th anniversary of the 228 Incident. The event was held at the 228 Peace Park in Taipei yesterday afternoon.
"Over the past 20 years, some have tried to simplify, twist or even falsify the historical meaning of the incident, saying that it was a social uprising caused by government corruption," Chen said in Hoklo (commonly known as Taiwanese). "But that is not true. It is a false history fabricated for political purposes."
The nature of the incident, Chen said, was "a systematic slaughter and organized suppression of Taiwanese people." It was carried out by "a foreign administration and authoritarian regime to consolidate its power."
The incident, he said, "completely violated democracy and human rights" and "suppressed and persecuted the people of Taiwan in a bid to serve the interests of one individual and one party."
"We can forgive this atrocity, but we must not forget and we must find out the truth of the matter so justice can be served and lessons can be learned," he said. "Only by knowing the tragic past can we prevent such a tragedy from happening again."
Other senior political figures including Vice President Annette Lu (
Chen's remarks were an apparent response to recent comments from Ma and his party.
Ma has said that it was the actions of local government officials who pushed the people into rebelling rather than the KMT as a whole or Chiang, then KMT chairman and commander-in-chief of the armed forces.
Ma, who spoke at the event before Chen, yesterday expressed the hope to see a national memorial museum inaugurated next year.
Ma, who spoke in broken Hoklo, was heckled by the audience, with some calling him "a slave of China" and others chanting "long live the Republic of Taiwan."
Lu said that she would like to launch a campaign to promote "good hearts, good people and good Taiwan" with the goal to build a "perpetually good Taiwan."
"We want to know more about the truth, not falsify the truth. We want true feelings, not fake ones," Lu said.
In 1995, then president Lee Teng-hui (
During his stint as Taipei mayor, Chen renamed Taipei's New Park as 228 Peace Park in 1996 and helped establish the Taipei 228 Memorial Museum in 1997. The day Feb. 28 was also approved by the Cabinet that year as a national holiday.
In August 2003, Chen, in his capacity as president, presented the first batch of national certificates to families of victims to clear the names of their loved ones killed or jailed because of the incident.
Starting this year, flags will fly at half mast on Feb. 28 out of respect for the victims of the tragedy.