Co-organizer backs out from 228 Incident commemorative event
Taipei, Feb. 22 (CNA) An anti-authoritarianism group on Monday decided to back out from a 228 Incident commemorative event after learning that former President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) of the Kuomintang (KMT) was invited to participate.
The Taiwan Nation Alliance (TNA), which was the co-organizer of this year's 228 Incident commemoration, made the announcement in a statement.
The event is scheduled to take place on the afternoon of Feb. 28.
TNA convener Wu Shu-min (吳樹民) said in the statement that the group was coordinating the event's program with another co-organizer, the Taipei 228 Memorial Museum.
The Taipei 228 Memorial Museum suddenly informed TNA in mid-February, however, that Ma was going to give remarks during the event, which was met with strong opposition among TNA members, Wu said.
Wu said families of 228 Incident victims filed a case in court in 2010, demanding that Ma, who was Taiwan's president and KMT chairman at that time, to apologize on behalf of his party, but Ma refused to do so.
"This showed that Ma and the KMT have no remorse for the incident," he said.
The 228 Incident refers to the violent crackdown of anti-government protests from late-February to mid-May 1947 in Taiwan.
It started with a raid on a vendor selling smuggled cigarettes on Feb. 27, which led to the death of a bystander and triggered an islandwide uprising the next day after government guards fired indiscriminately at an angry crowd in front of a government office.
An estimated 5,000-28,000 victims were believed killed during the ensuing crackdown by the then-Kuomintang government.
The government would impose martial law two years later in 1949 after the KMT lost the Chinese Civil War and retreated to Taiwan, and would maintain it for nearly four decades, making it a symbol of authoritarianism in Taiwan.
Taipei Deputy Mayor Tsai Ping-kun (蔡炳坤) later clarified that the Taipei City government is the organizer of the commemorative event, while the TNA and the Taipei 228 Memorial Museum are co-organizers.
He said the city accepted proposals from both the TNA and the Taipei 228 Memorial Museum to invite Vice President Lai Ching-te (賴清德) and Ma, respectively.
Ma attended the 228 Incident commemorative event each year during his time as president and had apologized to the incident's victims and their families on behalf of the government, Tsai said.
Lai is a member of the ruling-Democratic Progressive Party and supportive of Taiwan independence, in line with the TNA's ideology.
According to the city, the event will start with two representatives of victims' families giving their remarks, followed by comments by Lai, Ma, and Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je (柯文哲).
After that, the five speakers will place flowers in memory of the victims.
Vicky Chen (陳智菡), a spokesperson for the city government, said the city had coordinated the ceremony with the two co-organizers and got their consensus regarding the guest list.
Chen said it was regrettable that the TNA has backed out from the event, but she said the city will remain in contact with the group and hoped it will reverse its decision.
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