Relatives of 228 Incident victims yesterday called on the government to follow through on its proposal to rename the Chiang Kai-shek (蔣介石) Memorial Hall and remove its authoritarian symbols as part of efforts to address past human rights violations.
Following the Ministry of Culture’s announcement on Saturday that it is working on a bill to reinvent the hall — that might rename the Taipei landmark and remove Chiang’s statue from it — a number of families of the victims of the incident held an impromptu news conference at the hall yesterday to express support for the changes.
Chiang was primarily responsible for the mass casualties of the 228 Massacre, but the former president has been “deified and enshrined in a massive imperial tomb,” which is an insult to those killed and their relatives, Memorial Foundation of 228 chief executive officer Yang Chen-long (楊振隆) said.
“The ubiquity of Chiang statues is unbearable for families of the victims, who know perfectly well Chiang’s role in the death of their relatives,” Yang said.
It is imperative to cease the glorification of Chiang so he can be judged for what he did, he said.
“High-school students donning Nazi costumes [in Hsinchu City last year] sparked international criticism, and we hope the same standards are applied to [the worship of Chiang],” Yang said.
The Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) criticized the ministry, saying that the changes would cause social division, but the nation cannot redress the consequences of the KMT regime without bringing about transitional justice, he said.
Ou Yang Hui-mei (歐陽煇美) said her father, Ou Yang Wen (歐陽文) — a student of renowned painter Chen Cheng-po (陳澄波) — was wrongfully imprisoned for 12 years for participating in protests.
She criticized the decades-long public commemoration of Chiang despite the brutality of the massacre, and said the memorial hall could be repurposed into an exhibition center to display artworks created by victims and their relatives.
The government has not identified any perpetrators of the massacre although research published by the foundation in 2006 found Chiang primarily responsible for the massacre, foundation standing director Lin Li-tsai (林黎彩) said.
“There are only victims [of the 228 Incident], but there is no perpetrator. Conflicts cannot be resolved without historical responsibility being understood,” Lin said.
Lin urged the immediate passage of a law on transitional justice, which would lay the legal groundwork for seeking the truth of the Incident and holding Chiang and his accomplices accountable for the massacre.
Lin’s father was killed at a military base in Kaohsiung without a trial, she said.
Foundation standing director Lee Hui-sheng (李慧生), whose grandfather went missing during the Incident, said the removal of merchandise associated with Chiang from the hall was justified.
The commercialization of products associated with Chiang hurts the families of victims, they said.
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