TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – On the 70th anniversary of the 228 Incident Tuesday, four students were detained for dismantling a statue of President Chiang Kai-shek on the campus of Fu Jen Catholic University, but the school said it was not pressing charges.
Between 18,000 and 28,000 people are estimated to have died when Chiang sent troops from China to quell an uprising in Taiwan against corruption, economic chaos and other injustices under his Kuomintang government in 1947.
Early Tuesday morning, a handful of students and activists showed up at the Fu Jen Catholic University campus in Xinzhuang, New Taipei City, armed with an electric saw to take down the late president’s bronze statue.
They told reporters the 228 Incident had already been over for 70 years, but if the government did not what it should do, then the people would do it themselves.
Police reportedly showed up on time and prevented the activists from completing their objective. They detained four students and later transferred them to the Xinzhuang Police Precinct Office for questioning.
The four were later identified as a religion student surnamed Lo, a philosophy student named Chen, a man named Lin and a woman named Chen. They claimed police did not have the right to enter the campus grounds and detain them.
During the attempt, scuffles broke out and one police officer was injured in the face and his glasses damaged, police said.
Neither the university nor the police officers were filing charges against the four, but they were referred to prosecutors for obstructing an officer in the discharge of his duties, reports said.
Later in the day, the statue was covered in documents referring to the victims of the 228 Incident and of the subsequent era of “White Terror.”
The college said it would form a committee to discuss the fate of bronze statues but called on students not to damage campus property.
Activists in several locations, also including the plaza in front of the Keelung Railway Station, tried to remove Chiang statues, while in Taipei City, the Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall was closing for the day Tuesday in order to avoid “social confrontation.”
Police were out in force after Taiwan Independence activists said they would nevertheless still show up to try and tear down the statue of Chiang inside the main building.
Last week, the Ministry of Culture announced that souvenirs honoring the late president would no longer be sold at the site.