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Civic groups take to streets to mark anniversary of 228 Incident

2018/02/24 18:47:49

Taipei, Feb. 24 (CNA) A total of 47 civic groups took to the streets in Taipei on Saturday to mark the 71st anniversary of the 228 Incident, urging the public to learn from history and continue to fight injustices and human rights violations in today's world.

The roughly 300 participants, including 99-year-old Taiwan independence movement pioneer Su Beng (史明), gathered at Rixin Elementary School at 1:30 p.m. and marched past four sites connected to the 228 Incident.

The 228 Incident describes an anti-government uprising and the subsequent brutal crackdown in early 1947 that left tens of thousands of people dead or imprisoned.

The four sites are: Tianma Tea House in the city's Datong District, the former Monopoly Bureau's Taipei branch building (which now houses Chang Hwa Bank's Taipei branch), the former Taipei Broadcasting Station (now Taipei 228 Memorial Museum), and the Office of the Chief Executive of Taiwan Province (now the Executive Yuan building) in Zhongzheng District.

As they walked, participants read out the names of those killed during the incident, sang songs and carried long white banners as a symbol of mourning.

"This year marks the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights," said Cheng Ching-hua (鄭清華), executive board member of the Nylon Cheng Liberty Foundation, which is dedicated to the memory of Cheng Ching-hua's late brother and pro-democracy pioneer Nylon Cheng (鄭南榕).

"We gather here today to express our sincere wish that people living on this land, whichever generation they belong to, will remember the 228 Incident that occurred 71 years ago," Cheng said before the march.

He also condemned China's detainment and imprisonment of Taiwanese human rights activist Lee Ming-che (李明哲), calling it a violation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and urging Taiwanese people to oppose such government oppression.

Cheng also called on Taiwan's government to quickly implement a transitional justice law that was passed by the Legislature in December 2017 to address the legacy of injustices left by former Kuomintang (KMT) administrations.

Politically active psychiatrist Chen Yung-hsing (陳永興), who also joined the march, made the same plea to President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文), saying transitional justice has yet to be fully implemented in Taiwan as many authoritarian symbols and monuments have yet to be removed.

The 228 Incident was triggered by a clash between government officials and a cigarette vendor in Taipei on Feb. 27, 1947. The officials beat the vendor in front of the Tianma Tea House and as an angry crowd gathered, a bystander was killed when one of the officials opened fire.

The incident led to an islandwide anti-government uprising that was brutally put down by the then KMT government.

In 1992, an Executive Yuan report estimated 18,000-28,000 people, many of them members of the intellectual elite, were killed during the crackdown, which lasted for several weeks into early May.

(By Christie Chen)
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