More than 40 civic groups staged a march in Taipei on Saturday to mark the 73rd anniversary of the 228 Incident, calling on the public not to forget the people's uprising in February 1947 that spurred a brutal government crackdown.
About 1,000 participants from some 40 civic groups gathered at the intersection of Taiyuan and Nanjing West roads at 1:30 p.m. and marched to sites in the city related to the incident.
They marched past Tianma Tea House; the former Monopoly Bureau building, which is now a Chang Hwa Bank; the former Taipei Broadcasting Station, now the Taipei 228 Memorial Museum; and the Executive Yuan building.
The 228 Incident refers to a civil uprising that started on Feb. 28, 1947 and resulted in a brutal government crackdown that left tens of thousands of people dead or imprisoned.
On Saturday, the participants in the commemorative march carried long white banners to symbolize mourning, while the names of those killed in crackdown were broadcast on loudspeakers.
Yang Huang Mei-hsing (楊黃美幸), chairwoman of the Dr. Chen Wen-chen Memorial Foundation, said the 228 Incident resulted mainly from cultural value differences between the people and Kuomintang government at the time, which had fled from China after a civil war there.
"We need to understand history in order to understand the differences in the cultural values of both sides," she said, adding that she was pleased to see so many young people at the rally.
"Because of the sacrifices of many people, Taiwan is now a democratic country, while China remains an autocratic country," Yang said.
Even now, 72 years after the 228 Incident, Taiwan is still under threat from China, she said.
Cheng Tsinghua (鄭清華), an executive board member of the Nylon Cheng Liberty Foundation that honors the memory of pro-democracy pioneer Nylon Cheng (鄭南榕), also said it is important that young people understand the history of the 228 Incident.
"We need them to continue the fight, because it (oppression) is just like a virus, it will mutate and infiltrate in different ways," he said.
Li Ssu-yi (李思儀), chairperson of the TW Gong Sheng, a youth group dedicated to commemorating the 228 Incident, said the rally was a show of respect for those who fought to unveil the truth behind the brutal 228 Incident.
The 228 uprising was triggered by a clash between six inspectors from the Provincial Monopoly Bureau and an elderly female cigarette vendor in Taipei on Feb. 27, 1947. The inspectors pistol-whipped the vendor as they tried to confiscate her smuggled cigarettes in front of the Tianma Tea House. As an angry crowd gathered, a bystander was shot dead when one of the officials opened fire.
According to an Executive Yuan report issued in 1992, between 18,000 and 28,000 people, many of them members of the intellectual elite, were killed during the subsequent government crackdown, which lasted into early May.
The period after the 228 Incident and into 1987 is known as the "White Terror" era, as it was a time when political dissidents were suppressed, imprisoned and killed, while the country was under martial law. (By William Yen)