The China Post news staff
TAIPEI, Taiwan — Sunday marked the emotional 69th anniversary of the devastating 228 Incident. At the event’s memorial ceremony President Ma Ying-jeou stressed that the government will not turn its back on history and has been pushing for reconciliation since 1995. The 228 Incident was an anti-government uprising violently suppressed by the Kuomintang (KMT) administration on Feb. 28, 1947. The event resulted in thousands of civilian deaths. It was with much solemnity and sincerity that he attended the ceremony, the president said, according to the Central News Agency. The tragedy that occurred 69 years ago has had wide ramifications and still wields an impact on society, Ma said. The government issued a formal apology to 228 victims and their families in 1995. With no concealment of the truth, the government has acknowledged its mistakes, made apologies and addressed the consequences, Ma said. The government has also institutionalized the historical event by erecting a memorial and making a new national holiday. The government has upheld this stance during the tenure of three presidents from both political parties.
More than Reparations Needed Sunday marked the 20th anniversary of the Memorial Foundation of 228’s founding as well as the fifth anniversary of the 228 Memorial Museum’s establishment. The foundation has received about 2,000 reparation requests, and paid out NT$7.2 billion (US$215.97 million) in total so far. However, reparations are not enough; we must also reflect deeply to understand the injustice of this incident to ensure that such events will never happen again, Ma said. It is not hate or vengeance, but love and peace that are “the proper response” to the tragic incident, Ma said. Although not everyone is happy with what his administration has done, Ma said he has had no regrets in advocating love and peace in Taiwan.
Treat Everyone with Justice “History should be faced as it is, with right and wrong clearly distinguished. Have empathy for the victims’ families. With this attitude (in mind), we believe the truth of the history will not be forgotten,” Ma said. Ma also encouraged ethnic harmony in his address, as the 228 Incident also marked a clash between the local population and Chinese mainlanders who migrated to the island with KMT Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek. “Everyone should be treated equally with justice,” Ma said. Civilians have suffered much over the past 70 years, during which the Second World War and the Chinese Civil War occurred and martial law was implemented. People endured a lot of pain in those periods.
“Let us gradually unravel the historical knots, and step by step fill the country with love and peace,” the president said.