A museum built to commemorate the 228 Incident will be transformed into a classroom next semester as part of a new effort to bring to life the history of the incident and its violent suppression.
Those who sign up for the course will be required to spend a certain amount of time at the museum studying and listening to lectures, National 228 Memorial Museum director Liao Chi-pin (廖繼斌) said.
“It will be like a virtual extension of a real campus,” Liao said.
“If this proves successful, it could serve as a new model for teaching human rights in Taiwan,” he said.
For a trial run, Liao chose a university a few blocks away from the museum — the Taipei Municipal University of Education — as a partner.
Under the scheme, lecturers specializing in human rights--related topics would be invited to share their thoughts and exchange views with students, he said.
Because his grandfather was one of the many victims of the 228 Incident, Liao said that much of his life has been shaped by the event.
Recently, academics have said that the number of people unaccounted for is between 18,000 and 28,000.
Although the initial incident took place in Taipei on Feb. 27, 1947, it mushroomed into an anti-government uprising that spread across the nation.
The brutal suppression of the uprising by troops led to the White Terror era, which saw thousands arrested, imprisoned and executed.
“I personally act as a tour guide for visitors, time permitting,” Liao said.
Before being appointed director last year, Liao was a legal expert, activist and researcher.
The museum has welcomed 37,000 visitors since it was opened last year, most of whom were civil servants and family members of victims who come to remember their loved ones.
Although most families have praised the museum, the director said he has higher expectations.
“There is a flaw in our museum that cannot be fixed,” he said, explaining his plan to transform the museum into a college lecture hall.
“We just do not have enough private belongings from the victims to display and attract more people. Even if we had the funding, there is nothing to procure,” he said.
Artifacts belonging to victims are in short supply and generally not well-preserved, because people destroyed documents to avoid persecution.
Liao said, he hoped to give the museum a new lease on life while also creating a comprehensive educational environment for the public.