Taiwan must avoid repeating past errors: ruling party

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President Tsai Ing-wen attends the celebrations marking the 72nd anniversary of the Feb. 28 Incident on Feb. 28, 2019. (NOWnews)

TAIPEI (CNA) — Taiwan’s people must cherish the country’s hard-earned democracy and learn the lessons of history in order to avoid repeating past errors, the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) said on Feb. 28 to mark the 72nd anniversary of the Feb. 28 Incident.

A generation of Taiwan’s elite perished in the 1947 anti-government uprising, dragging the whole of society into the long-running “White Terror” period under the rule of an authoritarian regime, the DPP said in a statement to observe the incident that the party said has left a wound in this country that is still unhealed.

Tens of thousands of civilians were killed as a result of the brutal suppression by the Kuomintang-led (KMT) government in the incident, and the massacre marked the beginning of the so-called “White Terror” period that lasted until the late 1980s, when former President Lee Teng-hui (李登輝) came to power.

The “White Terror,” in which tens of thousands of Taiwanese went missing, or were imprisoned or killed, is one of the most important events in Taiwan’s modern history and drove the Taiwan independence movement.

“History must be remembered, and lessons learned. Never forget that we are the lords of this land,” the statement said, adding that the 1979 Kaohsiung Incident is further proof that democracy was earned by the many who sacrificed their freedom and lives.

This year will mark the 30th anniversary of the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests and the 60th anniversary of the 1959 Tibetan Uprising.

At a time when Taiwan’s democracy is developing steadfastly, China has meanwhile been keeping a tight grip on Xinjiang Province, a stark contrast that demonstrates that “only democracy can resist the pressure exercised by the government on its people,” the statement said.

Although extensive efforts have been made to restore the reputations of many pro-democracy victims over the past 20 years, it said, the threat of a return of totalitarian rule still casts a shadow in Taiwanese society, which is why President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) has spared no efforts to implement transitional justice since assuming office in 2016.

“Actions to pursue the truth and accountability are not aimed at harming the perpetrator or getting revenge, but at safeguarding the values of human rights and restoring historical facts, so as to cement Taiwan’s democracy, freedom, and way of life,” the statement stressed.

Meanwhile, in a separate statement, opposition KMT Chairman Wu Den-yih (吳敦義) called for solidarity to mark the Feb. 28 Incident, saying that only love and leniency will allow justice to be served.

Taiwan’s people can lead happy lives only when there is solidarity in this country and peace across the Taiwan Strait, he said.

By Yeh Su-ping and Flor Wang