Recognize Taiwan: Tancredo

228 GATHERING: The US lawmaker told participants in a demonstration on Capitol Hill that it was time for Washington to end its strategy of ambiguity


Fri, Mar 02, 2007 - Page 3

A US congressman urged Washington to recognize Taiwan as a separate nation, a victim of 228 described her family's tragic loss of their father and the strains of Green Forever, My Taiwan echoed through the halls of Congress on the 60th anniversary of the 228 Incident on Wednesday, as Taiwanese-Americans commemorated the massacres and the subsequent decades of White Terror in Washington.

The event was a memorial service held in the lobby of the Rayburn House Office Building that brought together some 200 Taiwanese-Americans to remember 228 and the martial law that followed, and to express their hopes for the new Taiwanese democracy.

The service came at the culmination of a 250km run by some two dozen Taiwanese-Americans from the home of liberty in Philadelphia to Washington.

Joining them for the final kilometer, nearly 200 Taiwanese-Americans from across the country marched from the Smithsonian main building to the Capitol under brilliant skies and unseasonally warm weather for a press conference and then the service.

The stories of the thousands of families affected by the White Terror had "a common element," Lin Hsu Yung-mei told the memorial service.

"Injustice and senseless silence ... Now their stories can be told," she said to a teary audience.

Hsu, the daughter of prominent intellectual Lin Mao-seng, recalled the night of March 11, 1947, when six men dragged her father from their house. He disappeared never to be seen or heard from again.

Equating 228's impact on Taiwanese with the Holocaust's impact on Jews, Hsu invoked the Jews' cry, "never again."

The victims in both cases "were not numbers. These were human beings. And the Taiwan people hope that the US continues to share our pain and joins us in saying, `never again,'" she said.

Congressman Tom Tancredo, a leading Taiwan supporter in Congress, bemoaned Washington's "ambiguous" stance toward Taiwan in favor of China.

"I think we've been far too ambiguous about how we relate to Taiwan, to the nation of Taiwan, to the country of Taiwan," he said.

"I want China to know where the US stands, and I want you to know and want them to know that we do in fact believe in your sovereignty, that we believe that you are an independent nation," he said, to roaring applause.

Scott Garrett, a New Jersey congressman who helped with the logistics of the memorial service, said it was a "time to remember those who were killed in the 228 tragedy. It's a time to remember and reflect on those individual lives and what they were killed for."

"Their memory carries on today, and translates into the freedom and democracy that we experience in Taiwan today," he said.

Garrett pledged to continue to work for a US-Taiwan free trade agreement.

He also expressed the hope to "go to my office down the street and meet with high level officials from Taiwan."

"And I hope to meet with the president of Taiwan right here," he added, referring to the US government's policy of forbidding President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) and other senior Taiwan officials from visiting Washington.

In their march down Independence Avenue to the Capitol, the marchers chanted "Recognize Taiwan," and carried green and white flags similar to the Democratic Progressive Party flag, with the name, "Taiwan."

Formosan Association for Public Affairs chief lobbyist Coen Blaauw, one of the organizers, told reporters that the march intended to "bring the plea of the people of Taiwan for full de jure independence" to the nation's capital.

"We cannot change the past, but we have to make sure that the future looks good for the people of Taiwan," he said.