Civic groups to mark 71st anniversary of 228 Incident

Taipei, Forty-seven civic groups will co-organize a march in Taipei on Feb. 24 to mark the 71st anniversary of the 228 Incident, an anti-government uprising and the subsequent brutal crackdown that occurred in 1947.

Participants will gather at Rixin Elementary School at 1:30 p.m. and the march will begin at 2:28 p.m., the organizers said Wednesday.

The route will take participants past several sites connected to the 228 Incident, including 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), 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 Zhongzheng District.

Participants will read out the names of those killed during the incident as they walk, while carrying long white banners as a symbol of mourning, said Chiu E-ling (???), secretary general of the Taiwan Association for Human Rights, one of the participating groups.

The families of victims will also take part and there will be poetry recitals, speeches and music performance after the march.

"Through the event, we wish to remind society and the government that 228 is not only a holiday, but also a painful period in history and a cruel and bloody suppression of the people by the government," Chiu said.

She noted that such state-sponsored human rights violations continue today, citing the case of Taiwanese activist Lee Ming-che (???), who is in jail in China charged with "subversion of state power."

Cheng Ching-hua (???), 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 (???), said the event is also meant to echo the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and to remind the public that human rights must be fought for.

"Human rights do not appear out of the blue. We must earn them step by step and preserve them with a lot of hard work," he said, adding that he hopes the event will rally support for Lee Ming-che.

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 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 Incident is known as the "White Terror" era during which political dissidents were suppressed, imprisoned and murdered. The White Terror era lasted until the lifting of martial law in Taiwan in 1987.

Taiwan's Legislature passed a law in December last year to establish a transitional justice system to address the legacy of injustices perpetrated under former KMT administrations.

The period covered by the law was specified as being from Aug. 15, 1945, when Japanese colonial rule of Taiwan ended to Nov. 6, 1992, when martial law on Kinmen and Matsu ended, following the lifting of martial law on Taiwan proper in July 1987.

The Executive Yuan is required by the law to set up a committee to implement transitional justice measures, including the retrieval of political archives possessed by the KMT that are considered important to documenting the history of repression during the era.

Despite the passing of the law, Chiu said Wednesday it remains unclear who will serve on the committee and civic groups will continue to supervise the government's implementation of transitional justice.

Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel