Taipei, Feb. 18 (CNA) Over 40 civic groups will march in Taipei on Saturday to mark the 73rd anniversary of the 228 Incident, a people's uprising that started on Feb. 28, 1947 and turned into a brutal crackdown.
The groups, including the Dr. Chen Wen-chen Memorial Foundation, TW Gong Sheng, Taiwan Association for Human Rights, and Human Rights Network for Tibet and Taiwan, called on members of the public to march with them so the incident's impact on Taiwanese society is not forgotten.
The route passes sites connected to the incident, including Tianma Tea House, the former Monopoly Bureau's Taipei branch building (which now houses Chang Hwa Bank's Taipei branch), and the former Taipei Broadcasting Station (now Taipei 228 Memorial Museum), before arriving at the Office of the Chief Executive of Taiwan Province (now the Executive Yuan building) in the city's Zhongzheng District.
Li Ssu-yi (李思儀), chairperson of TW Gong Sheng, a youth group dedicated to commemorating the 228 Incident, said the march is aimed at remembering the sacrifices made by the people who fought against authoritarian rule.
"We refuse to forget and insist on carrying on the spirit of what they fought for during this year's march," she said, adding that many lost their lives fighting for the freedom people enjoy today.
The 228 Incident was triggered by a clash between government monopoly bureau 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. During protests the following day, many people were killed, leading to an island-wide anti-government uprising that was brutally put down by the then Kuomintang (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.
The period immediately following the 228 massacre is known as the "White Terror" era, during which political dissidents were suppressed, imprisoned and killed. The White Terror era lasted until the lifting of martial law in Taiwan in 1987.
Tashi Tsering, chairperson of the Human Rights Network for Tibet and Taiwan, said the movement behind the march is an inspiration for 150,000 Tibetans in exile around the world.
"We used to say today's Tibet is tomorrow's Taiwan, but now we say today's Taiwan is tomorrow's Tibet, he said. "Taiwan used to be an authoritarian country, but today is very free and democratic."
Just as Taiwanese youths choose not to forget the 228 incident, he hopes that the offspring of Tibet exiles will not forget that China occupied Tibet in the 1950s.
The march, now in its 4th year, will start at the intersection of Taipei Nanking West and Taiyuan roads at 1:30 p.m. Saturday.
The event attracted over 1,000 participants last year, said Kuo Chun-yi (郭俊毅), the media contact person for this year's march.