Upset over the local government’s apparent disregard for the upcoming 228 Incident anniversary, Chiayi City residents have denounced officials for not organizing any commemoration events at the city’s 228 National Memorial Park.
Some Chiayi residents said the city government was “turning the 228 National Memorial Park into just an ordinary neighborhood park,” as it has not organized any commemorative activities this year or last year.
The 228 Incident refers to the uprising which started on Feb. 27, 1947, against the then-Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) regime and the brutal crackdown that left tens of thousands dead and led to a nearly four-decade-long rule under martial law.
Located in Chiayi’s Lioucuo Borough (劉厝) and opened in 2011, the park is the first national park dedicated in memory of the 228 Incident.
The park was budgeted at NT$950 million (US$32 million), and its construction was a collaboration between the central government, the Chiayi City Government and the local 228 Incident foundation.
Chen Shih-an (陳世岸), an architect and an executive council member of the Chiayi City 228 Incident Commemorative Cultural Foundation, said the memorial park was not built for leisure activities.
“It was established to commemorate the 228 Incident, so its function should be different from regular neighborhood parks, which are for people to take a stroll and for leisure activities. There should have been a plan for its long-term operation and management,” he said.
“To this date, the park has only held one activity, which was the 228 Incident historic document and photograph exhibition on its opening in 2011,” he said.
Tien Wen-chen (田文珍), a section chief at Chiayi City Government’s Civil Affairs Bureau, said the central government has no plans to hold any commemorative event at the park this year.
A local resident criticized the government’s decision not to organize any activities, saying that is just not right for the city’s 228 National Memorial Park to hold no commemoration activities on the incident’s anniversary.
“Why spend so much money building a park that is silent [on the 228 Incident] all the time?” he asked.
According to Chiang Jung-sen (江榮森) of the Chiayi 228 Cultural Museum, when the park was being built, families of the victims of the 228 Incident repeatedly urged the establishment of a memorial museum.
“Unfortunately, their request was turned down. The park only has a bamboo-lined hallway for mounting exhibitions. It does not have the facilities to hold events,” he said.
He said civic groups are slated to host a memorial service at the Chiayi City 228 Monument on Mituo Road (彌陀路) at 9am today, and an exhinbition of 228 historical documents and photographs along with print engravings by Huang Jung-tsan (黃榮燦), a victim of persecution during the White Terror era, at the 228 Memorial Hall on Daya Road (大雅路) from today to March 24.
There will also be a 228 Incident Memorial Concert to commemorate the 11 Chiayi residents who were publicly executed by KMT soldiers in front of the Chiayi City Railway Station during the 228 Incident, he said, adding that the concert will take place at the city’s old Beimenyi Station (北門驛站).