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Activities announced to mark 70th anniversary of 228 Incident

2017/02/17 20:41:39

Taipei, Feb. 17 (CNA) A series of activities, including exhibitions, seminars and concerts will be held on Feb. 28 to mark the 70th anniversary of the 228 Incident, an anti-government uprising and brutal crackdown that occurred in 1947.

Several civic groups convened a news conference to announce the events.

The 228 Incident started when a clash between a cigarette vendor and an officer from the Office of Monopoly outside a coffee shop on Feb. 27, 1947, turned into an anti-government uprising the following day and was put down by the Kuomintang (KMT) government.

An estimated 18,000 to 28,000 people were killed during the crackdown, which lasted for several weeks into early May.

The civic groups said memorial activities will be sponsored in many cities and counties around Taiwan as well as Los Angeles -- including exhibitions, memorial services, concerts, seminars, prayer meetings and an historical site tour.

On Feb. 28, the central government will hold a memorial ceremony at 228 Peace Memorial Park, with President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文), Premier Lin Chuan (林全), Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je (柯文哲) in attendance.

President Tsai will hand out "reputation-rehabilitation certificates" to the families of some of the victims.

Another event involves an historical tour which will start at the location of the initial incident, a coffee shop in Dadaocheng (大稻埕), located southwest of Taipei's Datong District (大同區) and, ends in 228 Peace Memorial Park.

There will also be a march starting at the Executive Yuan, passing Chung Shan Hall, 228 Peace Memorial Park and ending on Ketagalan Boulevard in front of the Presidential Office.

This year's memorial activities will adopt a more global perspective, it was announced, including memorial activities in Los Angeles and seminars to be co-sponsored by the Memorial Foundation of 228 in South Korea and Japan, respectively.

Later in the year a book in French on the 228 Incident will also be published.

Hsueh Hua-yuan (薛化元), chairman of the Memorial Foundation of 228, said the commemoration is "not only to grieve, but more importantly for our future."

In line with President Tsai's advocacy of transitional justice, Hsueh said the foundation hopes to add recently declassified documents to its completed report on the incident.

The foundation is currently writing a new report that details issues of transitional justice as they relate to the 228 Incident.

Hsueh said "these people died because there was no other way, but the living must learn from history" so that such a tragedy is never repeated.

Taiwan must continue to work for freedom, democracy and human rights, but at the same time it has to be vigilant and never again allow a government that is undemocratic or infringes human rights, he said.

Peter Pan (潘信行), director of the Taiwan 228 Care Association, called on the government to "remove statues of (former President) Chiang Kai-shek (蔣中正)" from Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall in downtown Taipei.

"We should not commemorate a killer any more," Pan said, adding that "it is intolerable there is a memorial to such a monster."

He noted that earlier investigations into who was responsible for the 228 Incident have pointed to Chiang.

"He should pay for what he did, but today he still stands high up there waiting for people to worship him. How can we, the families of the victims, tolerate that?" he asked.

Pan expressed the hope that the statues will be removed from the hall and the site designated for an alternative use by either the public or the government.

Pan said the site could be re-designated "a new legislature," and undertook to propose the idea.

He also said that the government has compensated the families of the victims in the past, but complained it was "the people who paid the bill,' not "the perpetrators."

Although the families of the victims have previously sought to address this issue, Pan said the Ill-gotten Party Assets Settlement Committee established by the Executive Yuan last year, which is investigating assets owned by the Kuomintang, has done what they have proposed for many years.

He said that the families wanted the committee to take the KMT's ill-gotten assets, so that they can be "returned to the national coffers and to the public, but not the families of 228 victims, as they have already received compensation from the nation."

(By Sophia Yeh and Lilian Wu)
Enditem/AW