Sat, Mar 01, 2003 - Page 2 News List

Chen calls on Taiwan to forgive but never forget

PAST MISTAKES At a ceremony marking the 228 Incident, the president said that the nation should face up to history, but also look to the future with optimism

By Lin Chieh-yu  /  STAFF REPORTER , WITH CNA

At a memorial ceremony marking the 56th anniversary of the 228 Incident, President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) yesterday called on the people of Taiwan to remember the lessons of history and to have more tolerance and forgiveness to heal the wounds left behind by the incident.

Chen also called on the nation to push for democratic reforms and fulfill the wishes of the 228 victims.

"On this day, we should humbly and bravely face up to history because the gloom left behind by history is not yet thoroughly dealt with," Chen said.

"Doubts and difficulties still exist in [Taiwan's] society in matters of cultural identity and national identity. Before historical questions are resolved, we should have a humble and tolerant attitude," Chen said.

"On the other hand, we must also face the future, bravely take up the historical responsibilities and inherit the spirit of democratic reform demanded by Taiwan's intellectuals who were sacrificed at the time," Chen said.

In his speech at yesterday's ceremony, entitled "Memories, Hope, 228," Chen said justice should be the yardstick for measuring the 228 Incident as well as the many political incidents that occurred during the White Terror period and the Kaohsiung Incident.

"Apart from facing up to history and correcting mistakes of the past, we should also set a universal standard for Taiwan's future human rights path," Chen said.

"A-bian has therefore actively promoted the establishment of a national human rights commission in the hope that human rights can be promoted and guaranteed in an all-round manner," Chen said.

Meanwhile, Premier Yu Shyi-kun said yesterday that the government will take steps to clear the names of the victims of the 228 Incident.

Addressing a memorial ceremony to mark the 56th anniversary of the tragic event in Kaohsiung, Yu said the Cabinet has drafted a package of regulations that will pave the way for issuing certificates clearing the names of the victims of the 228 Incident, which started on Feb. 27, 1947.

This was the first time the central government has held a 228 Incident memorial ceremony in the southern port city of Kaohsiung, where many people were killed during the turbulent period.

"Many of society's elite were sacrificed and their families suffered during the years following the incident," Yu said in front of the Kaohsiung Municipal Museum of History. "But we have since nurtured a culture that respects human rights, laws and democracy."

Yu offered an apology to the bereaved families of the victims on behalf of the government and reaffirmed the administration's commitment to pursuing the truth of the incident.

"We'll restore history to its original state in the hope that similar incidents will never happen again," Yu said, adding that he hopes the victims and their families will turn their grief into love and help push for Taiwan's advancement.

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