Taiwanese activist tosses squid congee at Chiang Kai-shek statute on anniversary eve of 228

The man offers his rationale for the "squid congee attack" in a truly sad story behind it

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TAIPEI (Taiwan News) -- A Taiwanese man tossed squid congee towards the statue of the country's former ruler, Chiang Kai-shek, at the Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall (中正紀念堂) on Feb. 27, in protest of the country's slow progress on transitional justice, as well as eviction of Chiang's statue from the hall.

The action was made a day before the 72nd anniversary of the 228 Incident (Feb. 28 Massacre). The identity of the man attacking the statue was later confirmed by the pro-independence Taiwan Republic Office (台灣國辦公室) as its Office Director Chen Chun-han (陳峻涵). In a video released by the office after the "squid congee attack," Chen jumped across the red barrier ropes surrounding the statue and tossed materials towards the statue while repeatedly shouting "Chiang Kai-shek is a horrific murderer." Chen was soon stopped and arrested by the police nearby.

In a statement issued by the office, Chen expressed his disagreement with the slow progress on transitional justice since Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) took office as Taiwan President in 2016. She had made a promise, before the election, to speed up the progress. Chen was particularly upset that Chiang's statue and symbols honoring the Kuomintang dictator nevertheless remain on display at the hall today.

He also explained his rationale for this attack - to call Tsai Ing-wen and ruling government's attention to his appeal instead of being preoccupied with the 2020 presidential and legislative elections. Also, the material he tossed at the statue has a story and a meaning, Chen said.

In 1945, Taiwan was taken over by the Kuomintang and the island country subsequently underwent hyperinflation, poverty, and several deadly epidemics after coming under control by the corrupt rule of the Kuomintang government. Later in 1947, some Taiwanese people were forced to rebel in response to the bureaucratic rule, along with ethnic conflict which had turned violent years after the occupation.

Brutal oppression was in place, with reportedly tens of thousands of intellectuals, social elites, and dissidents being secretly trialed, jailed, or murdered, including three Taiwanese lawyers living in Taichung: Lin Lien-chung (林連宗), Lee Ruei-han (李瑞漢), and his brother Lee Ruei-feng (李瑞峰).

At the time, Lin was a respectable lawyer and a congressperson. He paid a visit to Lee's house and was treated with a cup of plain squid congee when hyperinflation and shortage had continued. Several soldiers of Kuomintang army surprisingly showed up and took the three away, leaving the unfinished meal on the table and the family in agony. The three never returned.

Decades later, especially on the anniversary of the 228, people in Taiwan would prepare and eat the plain squid congee as part of the ways to commemorate the White Terror victims and to remember the horrible living conditions in the late 1940s caused by the corrupt Kuomintang officials.

On Wednesday, the Taiwan Republic Office was calling the Tsai government to speed up the pace on transitional justice, hoping to remind Taiwanese people of the massacre brought to the island by Chiang, and to highlight the absurdity of the existence of Chiang's statues across the country today, via Chen's "squid congee attack" at the memorial hall.