Wed, Mar 01, 2006 - Page 1 News List

Chen urges truth of 228 Incident to be remembered

FORGIVE, DON'T FORGETIn an apparent broadside at the KMT chairman, the president said Ma's party shouldn't shirk blame for the 'systematic slaughter'

By Ko Shu-ling  /  STAFF REPORTER

Members of the families of victims of the 228 Incident yesterday place lilies in a Taiwan-shaped flower bed in Kaohsiung to symbolically show that love and peace have deep roots in Taiwan as part of their commemoration of the 228 Incident.

PHOTO: CHANG CHUNG-YI, TAIPEI TIMES

President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) yesterday berated the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) for distorting the truth of the 228 Incident, saying that the incident was a systematic massacre carried out to further the political interests of "one individual and one party" -- Chiang Kai-shek (蔣介石) and the KMT.

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 (呂秀蓮), Premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) and Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Chairman Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) attended the rain-drenched event.

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 (李登輝) apologized to the public for the first time on behalf of the government. The first state-funded monument was erected on Feb. 28 that same year. The legislature also passed the Regulations for Handling of and Compensation for the 228 Incident (二二八事件處理及補償條例) to offer state compensation to victims and their families.

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.

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