President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) yesterday bowed to apologize for the then-Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) government’s crackdown on civilians during the 228 Massacre, and instructed the Ministry of Education to increase the amount of educational materials dealing with the incident to teach the next generation about the tragedy.
Speaking at the main memorial ceremony, which was held in Yilan City, the president said he understood that the suffering and pain of the victims of the incident and their family members could not be erased, despite years of efforts by the government to acknowledge past mistakes, offer a formal apology to the victims and their families and make the day a national holiday, and promised to protect human rights and promote peace to prevent such incidents in the future.
“I know that memorial ceremonies cannot take away the sufferings of the victims and their families. On behalf of the nation and the government, I apologize again to the victims and their families,” he said.
Ma renewed his pledge to uncover the truth behind the tragedy, and promised to promote human rights as a universal value that has been underscored by the historical tragedy.
Lu Song-hai (呂崧海), the director of the Family of Victims of the 228 Incident Association in Yilan, said the Ministry of National Defense and all the intelligence bodies should open all related documents to help uncover the truth behind the tragedy.
He also urged the government to increase the amount of educational materials dealing with the incident to turn the tragedy into a significant lesson in history for the nation.
Ma said he would instruct the Ministry of Education to focus on the 228 Incident and help the nation learn from the incident and the White Terror era.
Yesterday marked the 66th anniversary of the 228 Incident, which refers to a brutal crackdown launched by the then-KMT regime on Feb. 27, 1947, against tens of thousands of Taiwanese, many of them among the intellectual elite. The incident led to nearly four decades of martial law in Taiwan.
During the ceremony, Peter Wang (王獻極), convener of the 908 Taiwan Republic Campaign, and a small group of protesters called for Ma to step down. Security guards immediately carried Wang out and cleared the scene.
Ma yesterday presented to the family of 228 victim Chiang Shih-chin (蔣時欽) a certificate restoring the reputation of the native of Yilan and son of Chiang Wei-shui (蔣渭水), an important figure in Taiwan’s resistance against Japanese colonial rule.