THE BEIPU UPRISING was the first example of armed resistance against Japanese rule in Taiwan, but for a century the incident has been distorted and disregarded.
On the evening of Nov. 14, 1907, Tsai Ching-lin (蔡清琳) organized a group of insurgents to seize weapons in Beipu Township (
In retaliation, the Japanese military and police massacred more than 100 Hakka, especially in Neidaping (
During Japanese rule, families of victims did not dare look for the remains of their loved ones and eventually the bodies could no longer be located.
Liu A-chun (
After 100 years, the memory of the Beipu tragedy is still fresh as family members continue to seek justice. Last year, an association for victims of the Beipu Uprising was established. With the assistance of local village leaders, the remains of the victims were uncovered and a religious ceremony was held to commemorate the dead.
After I transferred to Neifong Elementary School in the Neidaping school district in 1979, I started to shed light on the Neidaping massacre by writing a book titled Neifong Disaster after investigating household records from the Meiji period and drawing up a list of the victims. This list turned out to be of great help in seeking justice for the victims.
In 2002, Peng Sheng-yung (
As the Historical Research Commission of the Taiwan Provincial Government was unable to provide historical material corroborating the incident, I submitted my list of victims to the government. The list was approved by MOFA and was transmitted to the Japanese Foreign Ministry. The case was dealt with and finally settled.
For a long time, Hakka people have not had the right to interpret history or to control their own culture. Since the compilers of the Taiwan Province Chronicles and the Hsinchu County Chronicles were not Hakka, they recorded untrue facts about the incident, especially in the Hsinchu County Chronicles, where inappropriate comments insulting to the victims have deeply hurt their family members.
A clear example of this is an article titled "Centennial chants for the young victims of the Beipu Uprising" published in Yuan magazine last year, in which the author clearly does not want to make any changes to the county chronicles. The victims association launched strong protests and the dispute remains unresolved. We can see that the official chronicles that copied documents from the period of Japanese rule have had long-lasting consequences.
In order to improve the situation, the Hsinchu government should remove all inappropriate records in the chronicles and apologize to the victims' descendants.
Resentment and disputes over the Beipu Uprising still fester.
In 30 years of looking into historical materials regarding the uprising, I have found a story worth pondering: the son of the Japanese head of the Beipu Subprefecture was ordered to kill captives during the Second Sino-Japanese War, when his superiors said: "Your father was killed by the wicked Chinese. Now the time for revenge is here." But he refused to follow the order because killing captives was against the law and he did not want revenge.
We should remember this when we commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Beipu Uprising. Although the resentment and animosity might disappear with the passage of time, the historical facts remain.
Yang Ching-ting is director of the Hakka Taiwan Culture Academic Society.
Translated by Ted Yang
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