Fri, Feb 29, 2008 - Page 2 News List

228 Incident: Taiwan must face the shadow of 228: Chen

By Ko Shu-ling, Wu Cheng-Ting And Chang Jui-Chen  /  STAFF REPORTERS

A memorial service was held at the 228 Memorial Peace Park in Taipei yesterday to mark the 61st anniversary of the 228 Incident.

Speaking in Hoklo (commonly known as Taiwanese), President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) said that pretending the murder of tens of thousands of people never happened, or playing down the incident, is tantamount to rejecting universal human rights.

"If we cannot face the past, we cannot construct the future," he said.

Chen said some people had questioned whether it was necessary to continue to commemorate the 228 Incident each year, as it happened decades ago.

Some, he said, had argued that it was meaningless to do so and that discussing what happened only opened old wounds and exploited the past for political gains to spark social tensions.

Citing the words of Master Sheng Yen (聖嚴法師), Chen said the country would forever live under a shadow -- the memory of the 228 Incident and the White Terror -- if the public did not accept and deal with the truth.

The 228 Incident and authoritarian rule are not things that happened centuries ago, they were experienced by people living now, he said.

The fight for a freer, more democratic, more just and humane country is not yet over, he said.

A lot more must be done to ensure citizens' rights to freedom and happiness and to ensure they live free from fear of the government, he said.

Meanwhile, despite central government regulations mandating that the national flag be flown at half mast throughout the country on 228 Memorial Day, the Kinmen County Government and Taya Township (大雅) Office chose to ignore the decree yesterday.

Kinmen County Commissioner Lee Chu-feng (李炷烽) used the Kuningtou Battle in October 1949 and the 823 Artillery Bombardment in August 1958 as an excuse to issue an order that the county -- rather than the national -- flag be raised, while Taya Township Mayor Wu Hsien-sen (吳顯森) personally directed township staffers as they raised the national flag to full mast.

Wu said he could not acccept the attitude of the government, which had failed to value major holidays such as Retrocession Day and National Day, while choosing to focus on painful, historical incidents.

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