Asia Pacific

Taiwan president vows to uncover the truth behind 1947 massacre

Kyodo

Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen vowed Thursday that her administration will endeavor to uncover the truth of a military crackdown in 1947 that resulted in the deaths of thousands of civilians and will affix the responsibility for the atrocity.

“The government will take the lead in uncovering the truth of the 228 Incident and change the status quo that there are only victims and no perpetrators,” Tsai said, referring to the crackdown on civilian protests against Kuomintang (KMT) rule that began on Feb. 28, 1947.

To that end, Tsai said, she will ask agencies to continue searching for related government records and make them accessible to the public.

The goal, she said, is to make the Taiwan society rethink profoundly about what happened in 1947, learn lessons from it and build a country that is democratic, just and unified.

Tsai, of the Democratic Progressive Party, said since Taiwan’s democratization in the 1980s, its people can finally openly discuss the 228 Incident, which remained a political taboo for nearly 40 years.

The government’s efforts to reconcile with its troubled past include offering official apologies, erecting monuments, investigating the truth, restoring the reputation of victims and compensating them and their families.

“But I understand what the government has done so far clearly is not enough for victim families,” she told a delegation of victim families living overseas at the Presidential Office.

Meanwhile, to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the 228 Incident, Academia Historica published eight more books about it on Thursday. The historical society, which is under the jurisdiction of the Presidential Office, has been publishing books of declassified documents related to it since 2002.

Among the new evidence is a letter dated March 2, 1947, sent by Taiwan Gov. Chen Yi to KMT leader Chiang Kai-shek informing him that he had requested Chief of the General Staff Chen Cheng to send more troops to crack down on civilian protests.

While Chiang publicly said he did not agree to send the troops until March 7, the March 2 letter is the newest proof that Chiang, who died in 1975, should shoulder most responsibility for the massacre, said Chen Yi-shen, an associate research fellow at Academia Sinica’s Institute of Modern History.

Published even earlier is a March 4 telegram that Chen Yi sent to Chiang requesting more troops from the mainland.

“Anyone with basic common sense can determine that Chiang is the one who should be held responsible,” Chen said.

The KMT ruled China for four decades until 1949, when Chiang’s forces were defeated by the Communists and fled to Taiwan, where the party monopolized power until 2000, when the DPP took over the reins of government for the first time.

It returned to power in 2008 but lost to the DPP in last year’s elections.