A bronze statue of Chiang Kai-shek (蔣介石) on the National Chengchi University (NCCU) campus was vandalized yesterday in an apparent political protest to coincide with 228 Memorial Day.
According to a university spokesperson, the incident occurred early yesterday morning when eight Chinese characters were spray painted in white onto the front of the statue, which is of Chiang sitting in a chair.
A translation of the message is: “The residue of the authoritarian regime continues to victimize people, history shows [Chiang is] the murderer” (威權遺害, 歷史兇手).
The message apparently refers to the White Terror era that followed an uprising in 1947 against the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) regime, during which historians estimate that 10,000 to 30,000 people were killed throughout Taiwan.
The spokesperson said it looked like the words had been painted with the use of a stencil.
The spokesperson said the university removed the message yesterday afternoon, and added that another statue of Chiang riding a horse was not vandalized.
Similar incidents have happened before on the campus, the spokesperson said, adding that while the school respected people’s right to express their opinions, they should not cause damage to public property.
Later yesterday, school officials said they had found four people suspected of having been responsible for the vandalism, led by NCCU student Ku Cheng-hui (古振輝), who is enrolled in the university’s Department of Ethnology.
The spokesperson said the university would refer the four to the university’s Student Disciplinary Committee.
When asked about the incident, Ku said: “It was done because we want to make it known that Chiang Kai-shek was the instigator behind the killing and human rights violations during the 228 Massacre and the White Terror era. He impeded Taiwan’s democratic development by installing a political tyranny.”
“We want to remind our school that symbols of an authoritarian regime should not take up public space. Our school should make the truth known to students and Taiwanese,” Ku added.
Chiang served as the school’s first president when it was founded in Nanjing, China, in 1927 as the KMT’s Central Party Affairs Institute for education and political thought training.
The school was relocated to Taiwan in 1954 in the aftermath of the Communist victory over the KMT in the Chinese Civil War.