Wednesday, March 06, 2013

Exposing the secrets of the 228 Massacre

A protester at the 228 march last week
Making all the case files public, and changing prevailing regulations on access, is the only way to uncover the truth about an incident that continues to divide Taiwanese society  

As Taiwanese readied to observe the 66th anniversary of the 228 Massacre last week, many were angered when it emerged that President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九), at the behest of a descendant of a perpetrator, had sent a letter to Academia Sinica’s Institute of Modern History asking it to uncover the “real facts” behind the incident. 

For critics, Ma’s request was regarded as an attempt to rewrite, possibly with the intent of whitewashing the Chinese Nationalist Party’s (KMT) responsibility, a dark, albeit defining, chapter in the nation’s history. 

While further studying of the causes, impact and future consequences of the massacre and the decades of the equally murderous White Terror that ensued, should be encouraged, it is shocking that, 66 years on, people in Taiwan, including Minister of Culture Lung Ying-tai (龍應台), can still question who bears ultimate responsibility — Chiang Kai-shek (蔣介石), governor Chen Yi (陳儀), unruly KMT soldiers, corrupt government officials or Taiwanese “thugs” — or how many people were slain, which is proof that the story is incomplete. 

There are two main reasons why a full understanding of the massacre, or incident, depending on one’s point of view, remains elusive to this day. 

My unsigned editorial, published today in the Taipei Times, continues here.

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