Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Chairperson Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文), during a ceremony to commemorate the 68th anniversary of the 228 Incident yesterday, called for an end to “mistakes in history” and for the establishment of Taiwan as an “authentically free and democratic” nation.
With police ubiquitous near entrances and barbed wire ringing park walls, a solemn crowd of several hundred gathered in front of the 228 Memorial Monument, with most participants quietly holding up white chrysanthemums to symbolize mourning for the 228 victims.
Strong political symbolism infused the service, which was conducted in Hoklo (commonly known as Taiwanese) and attended by many prominent pan-green politicians.
“It’s only been a little more than 20 years since authoritarian rule ended in Taiwan, and we have yet to achieve complete success in transitional justice and locally oriented education, as well as our efforts in seeking fairness and justice, and we’re often met with challenges from conservatives,” Tsai said.
“I would like to promise all of you here that if the DPP has another chance to be in power, we will face these challenges bravely, seriously pushing for transitional justice, democratic education and social justice, so that democracy in Taiwan will be more progressive and strong, so that more young people will have the opportunity to be more familiar with Taiwan, and to have a better understanding of our past,” she added.
“Each one of us Taiwanese has a mission: We should put an end to all mistakes in history and, for generations to come, we will make Taiwan an authentically free and democratic country,” she said.
Taiwan Nation Alliance chairman Wu Shu-min (吳樹民) echoed Tsai’s statement, voicing his expectation that Tsai will lead Taiwanese in the search for transitional justice.
“I’m looking forward to Tsai having the opportunity to lead all Taiwanese in the realization of transitional justice next year, and to bestow justice on all 228 victims by discovering the full truth,” he said.
The ceremony opened with a singing of Taiwan the Green (台灣翠青), a Taiwanese Presbyterian Church hymn which has been promoted as Taiwan’s “national anthem” by many independence activists. Taiwanese composer Hsiao Tyzen (蕭泰然) — who passed away last week — set the hymn to music and included it in his 1947 Overture (一九四七序曲), composed in commemoration of the 228 Incident.
A memorial concert was also held, with participants sharing squid surimi (魷魚糜), the dish the family of several prominent victims were preparing when they were arrested.
Independent Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je (柯文哲) was notably absent, despite being listed as a memorial service speaker.