Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Chairperson Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) accused President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) yesterday of insincerity in promoting reconciliation with victims of political persecution.
Ma’s paying tribute to dictator Chiang Kai-shek (蔣介石) and planning to change the name of the National Taiwan Democracy Memorial Hall back to Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall showed that the Ma government has never reviewed the massacre conducted by the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT), Tsai said.
“When Ma bows and sheds tears in front of the body of the main culprit [Chiang], he rubs salt in the wounds of victims of the 228 Incident and the White Terror,” Tsai said at a ceremony to commemorate victims of the two events.
The ceremony, organized by the DPP, took place at the main entrance of the National Taiwan Democracy Memorial Hall under the Liberty Square archway.
The former DPP government renamed the memorial in 2007 as part of its efforts to remove symbols commemorating Chiang. The DPP also replaced the inscription on the hall’s entry arch, dazhong zhizheng (大中至正), meaning Chiang’s “great neutrality and perfect uprightness,” to “Liberty Square” (自由廣場) and redecorated the hall.
“Although the Ma government has proposed reinstating the title of Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall, it has never reviewed or apologized for the KMT’s violence,” Tsai said.
The KMT respects Chiang, while the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) venerates Mao Zedong (毛澤東) and both parties do everything they can to avoid facing the massacres they committed, she said.
Now that the KMT and CCP have reconciled, both are cooperating to legitimize their rule and rationalize their massacres, she said.
While the KMT government held a ceremony to commemorate victims of the White Terror yesterday, it was not sincere in holding the event, she said.
DPP Legislator Wang Sing-nan (王幸男) said copies of military court rulings in Chiang’s handwriting showed Chiang often changed lighter sentences to heavier sentences and heavier sentences to the death penalty.
The 228 Incident was a rebellion against KMT rule sparked on Feb. 27, 1947. It has been estimated that some 20,000 people were killed by KMT troops in the months following the rebellion.
As Chiang dispatched KMT troops to Taiwan, many believe he should bear the largest share of responsibility for the tragedy.
The White Terror began soon after the 228 Incident, when the government launched a brutal military crackdown against locals protesting the administration of executive administrator Chen Yi (陳儀), who was appointed by the KMT government to govern Taiwan after World War II. Martial law was enacted briefly at that time.
In the following years, tens of thousands of people were arrested, imprisoned, tortured and murdered.
During the White Terror era, the KMT government killed tens of thousands of suspected dissidents, mainly the Taiwanese intellectual and social elite, as it searched for communist agents, sympathizers and others it feared could pose a threat to its rule.
The powerful Taiwan Garrison Command identified suspects through its widespread secret-agent system.