Over 60 civic groups to march on 72nd anniversary of 228 Incident

TAIPEI (CNA) – Over 60 civic groups will march in Taipei on Sunday to mark the 72nd anniversary of the 228 Incident, the brutal crackdown of an anti-government uprising in 1947, according to the organizers Wednesday.

The civic groups, including the Presbyterian Church in Taiwan and Nylon Cheng Liberty Foundation (NCLF), called for the public to join them that day in reflecting on the impact the incident has had on Taiwan’s society as they walk from Tianma Tea House in Taipei’s Datong District to the Executive Yuan, the organizers said.

The route goes past sites connected to the 228 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 Zhongzheng District, the organizers pointed out.

Participants will read out the names of those killed during the 228 Incident as they walk, and a poetry recital will be held when they reach the Executive Yuan, the organizers added.

Tu Chih-yao (凃之堯), NCLF chief executive officer, said the 228 Incident occurred 72 years ago and like all historical events in Taiwan, belongs to the shared historical memory of Taiwanese.

The incident also reminds Taiwanese that freedom does not come easy, Tu added.

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 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.

In addition to the historical impact of the incident, the event will also reflect the determination to pursue transitional justice, the organizers pointed out.

Taiwan’s Legislature passed a law in December 2017 and established a transitional justice system to address the legacy of injustices committed 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.

By Wang Cheng-chung and William Yen