Taipei, Feb. 28 (CNA) President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) said Tuesday that her government is vigorously promoting transitional justice for the purpose of achieving reconciliation in the country, not to provoke political conflicts.
The people of Taiwan must "face the past together so our country will move on to a great future," Tsai said at a ceremony to mark the 70th anniversary of the Feb. 28, 1947 Incident in which government troops brutally cracked down on the local population.
The public discourse on the 228 Incident must change from one of "only victims but no perpetrators," Tsai told descendants of the victims.
The truth about the crackdown was kept in the dark for many years during the period of martial law 1949 to 1987 under the Kuomintang (KMT) government. Tsai promised that her administration will uncover the facts about the persecution and killings that extended into the "White Terror" period.
"However, we will be very cautious about assigning responsibility for the 228 Incident," Tsai said.
She said her administration plans to enact a law, hopefully during the current legislative session, to promote transitional justice and establish an "independent government agency" to carry out all the relevant tasks.
"Kick-starting the economy is important, but so is justice," Tsai said, alluding to criticisms that the economy should be the government's priority right now.
It is worthy goal to pursue both economic prosperity and social justice, she said.
"The aim of promoting transitional justice is reconciliation, not political conflict," Tsai said. "My government will insist on upholding this policy."
Tsai said her vision for reconciliation is exemplified by Germany's handling of its holocaust past.
"Germans were the perpetrators and Jews were their victims," Tsai said. "When I see them holding joint commemorative activities, it is very moving. I hope someday to see a similar approach in Taiwan."
She said that once transitional justice has been served, no political party in Taiwan will need to carry around the baggage of authoritarian rule.
On that day, "all facts will be cleared up, the perpetrators will apologize, and victims and their descendants will grant forgiveness," Tsai said.
When that day comes, Feb. 28 will mark a time "when our country will be most united, when we no longer blame each other, when no one has to hide in embarrassment," the president said. "Taiwan must see a warm spring with flowers blooming. Such a spring will come."
(By Sophia Yeh and S.C. Chang)