Academics studying the 228 Incident yesterday suggested the government bring in foreign perspectives to establish the facts of the tragedy.
Many believe that the full history of the incident has not been revealed and that the incident is the source of "ethnic discord" in the country, the academics said.
The panelists made the comments at a two-day symposium hosted by The Memorial Foundation of the 228 Incident in Taipei yesterday. The symposium was held to commemorate the 61st anniversary of the 228 Incident, which started on Feb. 27, 1947, when the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) regime suppressed an uprising, leaving tens of thousands dead, missing or imprisoned.
"Many important issues of the incident have been overlooked until now and we were unable to examine [discrepancies in] official statements on the event without the viewpoints of foreigners," Su Chung-yao (蘇崇瑤), an associate professor at Providence University, told the audience.
Su published a paper that compared accounts of the incident from three perspectives: the official A Research Report on the 228 Incident published by the Executive Yuan in 1992, research conducted by George Kerr, who worked at the US Consulate in Taipei at the time of the massacre and coverage of the event by foreign media outlets.
The official report concluded that the suppression occurred because the uprising had spun out of control. Foreign coverage found that the uprising was purposely created by the executive administrator of Taiwan, Chen Yi (陳儀), with the intention of using the revolt as an excuse to request that China dispatch reinforcements to Taiwan, Su said.
James Wang (王景弘), a senior reporter, shared with the symposium a paper on analyses of the New York Times' reports on the 228 incident.
"The New York Times' coverage served as important historical records of the brutality of the KMT regime and the demand of the people of Taiwan at that time that they would rather be governed by the UN or the US than by the Chinese," he said.
A number of foreign guests were also invited to express their views on the tragedy.
Joung Hwa Kim, a professor at South Korea's Chungbuk National University, said that one of the major findings of the many studies on the incident was that dictator Chiang Kai-shek (蔣介石) was the main party behind the incident that eventually led many Taiwanese people to develop Taiwan-centered consciousness.
"The spirit, however, does not seem enough for Taiwan to obtain independence easily," Kim said. "Taiwan needs international support for its independence line. Aside from this, the biggest obstacle is its close connection with China. Taiwan is getting both threats and conciliation from China."