Fri, Feb 29, 2008 - Page 2 News List

228 Incident: KMT `slaughtered justice' after 228 Incident: artists

PICTURING THE PAST In addition to exhibiting 20 works, some of which were by survivors of the 1947 massacre, a foundation invited seven artists to produce new pieces

By Shih Hsiu-chuan  /  STAFF REPORTER

A group of artists commemorated 228 Memorial Day yesterday by staging an art fair with the theme "Who slaughters justice?"

"Who slaughters justice? It's not the brutal rulers of the 228 massacre, but the Chinese Nationalist Party [KMT], which destroyed visual records of the incident during the White Terror," said Chen Chin-huang (陳錦煌), the head of the 228 Incident Memorial Foundation.

The scarcity of documentation has led some Taiwanese to doubt whether the incident happened, he said, which is why the foundation has organized the fair to bring history to life and to raise public awareness of the fact that justice still has not been served.

On Feb. 27, 1947, the arrest of a cigarette vendor in Taipei led to large-scale protests by Taiwanese people against the corruption and repression of the KMT regime.

Dictator Chiang Kai-shek (蔣介石) responded to a request from executive administrator Chen Yi (陳儀) to dispatch troops from China to stifle the civilian protests in Taiwan.

Historians estimate that some 20,000 people were killed during the crackdown that followed.

"Why is an event that resulted in so many deaths toned down with the term `Incident' instead of `Massacre?' Why do some people think any discussion of the issue is a move to provoke `ethnic tensions?' Why is the younger generation of this country not concerned?" Chen Chin-huang said.

He said Chiang's implementation of martial law, which lasted for 38 years, was to blame for the truth being swept under the carpet and it being turned into a highly taboo subject.

In addition to exhibiting 20 pieces of artwork showing the military using violence against protesters -- some of which were done by survivors of the massacre -- the foundation invited seven artists to create new works for the fair.

The exhibit also included an outline of the events that led up to and followed the violence on Feb. 28, 1947, including what triggered the protests, how they spread across Taiwan, how they were quelled and the aftermath, including strict government regulation and surveillance of society.

One section of the exhibit includes information about massacres and violent crackdowns in other countries: the pro-democracy uprising in Gwangju, South Korea, in 1980, the 1915 to 1918 Armenian Genocide in Turkey, the Holocaust and the widespread abuses during apartheid in South Africa.

The exhibit's organizers said they hoped the information would highlight the process of transitional justice and offer a comparison between efforts toward reconciliation abroad and in Taiwan.

Invited to give the opening speech, President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) criticized people who call on the victims of the 228 Incident and their family members to forgive the wrongs against them, or for the public to forget what happened and move on.

Such people talk a lot about the need for "ethnic harmony," he said, using it as a reason not to face up to the deeds of the authoritarian regime.

The exhibition, taking place at 228 National Memorial Hall in Taipei, will run until the end of March from 9:30am to 5:30pm from Tuesdays to Sundays and will be closed on Mondays.

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