TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — One of the co-organizers of this year’s 228 Massacre commemoration event in Taipei has withdrawn after learning that former President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) of the Kuomintang (KMT) was invited to participate.
The Taiwan Nation Alliance (TNA) made the announcement in a statement on Monday (Feb. 22), CNA reported. The event is scheduled to take place during the afternoon on Feb. 28 and is being organized by the Taipei City Government.
The TNA and the Taipei 228 Memorial Museum were originally set to be the co-organizers for the event, which will commemorate the 74th anniversary of the 228 Massacre. According to TNA convenor Wu Shu-min (吳樹民), the Taipei 228 Memorial Museum suddenly informed TNA in mid-February that the Taipei City government had invited Ma to the event and that the former president was planning to give a speech.
Wu said the decision to include Ma was met with strong opposition from TNA members; therefore, the alliance chose not to participate.
The 228 Massacre, or 228 Incident, refers to the violent crackdown on anti-KMT government protests in Taiwan that lasted from late-February to mid-May 1947. The spark occurred on Feb. 27, when agents from the State Monopoly Bureau struck a Taiwanese woman suspected of selling contraband cigarettes.
The excessive force caused a crowd of angry bystanders to form around the agents, who then attempted to flee, but not before one fired indiscriminately into the group of protesters, killing one bystander. The event triggered protests around Taiwan and led to the KMT killing up to an estimated 28,000 people over the following months.
The KMT government would then go on to officially declare martial law two years later in 1949 after losing the Chinese Civil War to the Chinese Communist Party and fleeing to Taiwan. This resulted in a 38-year period of brutal authoritarianism that lasted until 1987, also referred to as the “White Terror.”
According to the Taipei City Government, five speakers are scheduled to speak at the event: two representatives of the victims’ families, Vice President Lai Ching-te (賴清德), Ma, and Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je (柯文哲).