Wed, Feb 28, 2007 - Page 4 News List

The 228 Incident: Sixty years on - Filmmaker recalls family's misery

BAGGAGE It took J.C. Hung years to find the courage to make a film about his own experiences during the White Terror period, when his parents were imprisoned

By Shelley Shan  /  STAFF REPORTER

Documentary film director J.C. Hung (洪維健) has very personal memories from the White Terror period of of an experience that nearly destroyed his family.

In 1950, Hung's parents were arrested on insurrection charges for their alleged involvement with the Chinese communist spy Yu Fei (于非).

Hung, however, says his parents were guilty only of attending what they thought was an educational seminar offered by the then Taiwan Provincial Government.

Hung's father and mother were later sentenced to 13 years and 10 years in prison respectively.

Hung's mother gave birth during her imprisonment and he spent the first five years of his life in prison. He was then sent to live with his grandmother.

Hung's parents were released in the 1960s, but it was then that his own persecution began.

Hung's grandmother passed away soon after and his family was forced to move seven times in the next 10 or so years as his parents' prison records made it difficult for them to find employment. The police also made frequent visits and made things difficult for the family.

Hung's mother died of cancer in 1996 and his father passed away the following year. Hung himself suffers from claustrophobia and finds it difficult to travel.

In 2002, Hung decided to embark on a film career after working as a journalist for more than 20 years. He assisted Juan Mei-shu (阮美姝), whose father was spirited away by intelligence officers in 1947 and officially reported as "missing" for 50 years, in producing six documentary films based on her interviews with 40 people affected by the White Terror period.

He also documented the establishment of 228 monuments after Feb. 28 was declared a national holiday.

However, Hung has long thought about making a documentary based on his personal experiences.

"As a child, my mother would burn my journals whenever she saw passages mentioning her and my father's time in prison. She was worried that we would get into trouble again," he said.

Documents related to the Yu Fei case had been classified along with others related to the 228 Incident, and when these were declassified Hung found new motivation to complete his film.

The documents only confirmed Hung's suspicions.

Hung found that Chiang Kai-shek (蔣介石) had personally examined each person's file and stamped it with his seal.

Moreover, Hung said that Chiang did not pardon any individual whose file he reviewed. Instead, he extended their sentences.

Hung also discovered that prosecutors and judges had used pseudonyms for fear that family members would seek revenge.

"Writer Bo Yang (柏楊) was not exaggerating when he described mothers crying about their children who were doing time on Green Island (綠島)," Hung said in his documentary Blind Night (暗夜哭聲). "For each White Terror victim there was a crying mother during the rule of the Chinese Nationalist Party [KMT]."

Hung said he had chosen not to share too many of his recollections with his children.

"The more they know, the more they suffer," he said.

Hung's quest for closure continues and he said the KMT should make an official apology and compensate the relatives of White Terror victims.

He also criticized the government's approach to the issue, saying the 228 Foundation simply issued meaningless certificates.

"If they [the officials at the foundation] could read the files and understand them the way I did, they would do more than just send out notices," he said.

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