The 2-28 Monument in Taipei
This translation, along with the original version of the text are being
engraved on a stone plaque (or something like that) in a park in Taipei, in
commemoration of the 228 Incident.
Commemoration of 228 Incident
Translation by Roselyn Ying-Yueh Hsueh and Tze-Yau William Ng Huang
Carefully erected for commemoration by the February 28 Incident Memorial
Foundation, February 28, 1997
In 1945, when the news arrived about Japan's defeat and surrender to the
Allies in the Second World War, the Taiwanese people celebrated with joy and
happiness that an end has come to the unjust Japanese colonial rule. To the
surprise of the Taiwanese, however, Chief Executive Chen Yi, the KMT officer
charged with the heavy responsibility of administering Taiwan, ruled with
bias and discrimination. Corrupt bureaucracy, imbalance in production and
distribution, rampant inflation and severe unemployment resulted to the
Taiwanese dissatisfaction that bordered boiling point.
On February 27, 1947, public anger intensified when a KMT State Monopoly
Bureau personnel, while patrolling for illegal sale of private tobacco,
injured a Taiwanese female vendor and killed an innocent bystander.
Inhabitants of Taipei demonstrated the next day in front of the CEO official
residence pleading punishment for the killer. The demonstrators were
unexpectedly fired at, leaving a number of them killed or wounded. A full
scale confrontation ignited. In hopes of resolving conflicts and abating
accumulated resentment, Taiwanese gentry from every locality formed an
Incidence Resolution Committee to urge prompt mediation among involved
parties and to request for political reforms.
Unexpectedly, despite joining negotiations on one hand, Chen Yi labeled the
peacemakers as bandits and traitors, and asked Nanjing to dispatch troops.
Without further ado and already with Taiwanese destruction in mind, the
chairman of the Nationalist government, Chiang Kai-Shek, sent immediately
the 21st Division of the army under the command of General Liu Yu-Ching to
Taiwan on March 8. The KMT began implementing martial law throughout out
Taiwan by March 10, shortly after the army's landing in Keelung. General Ko
Yuan-Fen, the chief of staff of the Garrison Command; the commander of the
fort of Keelung, General Shih Hung-Hsi; the commander of the fort of
Kaohsiung, General Peng Meng-Chi; and the chief commander of the military
police, Chang Mu-Tao, acted without due process, in crackdowns and purges
which cruelly seized innocent lives. Within a few months, the number of
deaths, injured and missing persons became widespread, amounting to tens of
thousands. Keelung, Taipei, Chiayi and Kaohsiung suffered the highest
number of casualties. This widespread holocaust came to be known as the
February 28 (228) Incident.
For nearly half a century, Taiwan resided under long term martial law. The
government silenced civilians. No one dared to hint at the taboo subject of
228. However, after years of accumulated grievances without reconciliation,
the wrongs need to be corrected. The mistrust between new comers and the
Taiwanese and the controversy of unification versus Taiwan independence are
now great concerns within the hearts of the people of Taiwan. Since the
lift of martial law in 1987, it has become apparent to all sectors of
Taiwanese society that peace and stability could not be established, thus
bringing healing to the chronic wound, without public recognition of the
February 28 Incident. Amendments need to be made to the victims and their
families. Research and investigation into the February 28 Incident, a
formal apology from the head of the state (President T.H. Lee), compensation
to victims and their families and the construction of memorial monuments are
being considered. The shared devotion of all people must exist for a
society to heal from a devastating trauma as this. Carving words on stones,
much like a requiem, with the intention of bringing peace to the spirits of
the dead, will tranquilize the sorrow and relieve the anger of the victims
and their families. A closure to the 228 episode can finally befall; not
without first, a lesson learned by looking through a mirror into the past.
Henceforth, there shall no longer be distinctions between us and them. We
must solidify into one people, help one and another through love, treat each
other with sincerity and create eternal peace with an annihilation of all
hatred and resentment. Heaven shall bless this island of treasures,
Formosa, to prosper forever.