228 Memorial Day in Taipei

Taiwan President Chen Shui-bian gives a speech at the 228 Memorial in Taipei, 28 February 2008

I arrived at 228 Peace Park just as Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-bin (郝龍斌) was finishing his speech. I then watched on as Vice-President Annette Lu and President Chen Shui-bian gave their speeches. As they both spoke in Hoklo Taiwanese I didn't understand what they said. The Taipei Times gives a good summary of Chen's speech. 

Speaking in Hoklo (commonly known as Taiwanese), President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) said that pretending the murder of tens of thousands of people never happened, or playing down the incident, is tantamount to rejecting universal human rights.

"If we cannot face the past, we cannot construct the future," he said.

Chen said some people had questioned whether it was necessary to continue to commemorate the 228 Incident each year, as it happened decades ago.

Some, he said, had argued that it was meaningless to do so and that discussing what happened only opened old wounds and exploited the past for political gains to spark social tensions.

Citing the words of Master Sheng Yen (聖嚴法師), Chen said the country would forever live under a shadow — the memory of the 228 Incident and the White Terror — if the public did not accept and deal with the truth.

Crowd enthusiastically awaits for the arrival of A-bian at Taiwan Democracy Hall, 28 February 2008

After 228 Park I headed back to Freedom Square (自由廣場) where I met Darren and a little later Craig. The atmosphere there was considerably more upbeat and excited than the sombre event at 228 Park.

A-bian shakes hands with supporters at Taiwan Democracy Hall on 28 February 2008

A-bian arrived to an enthusiastic welcome from the crowd. While he has had to bear much criticism of his Presidency he still remains hugely popular with many people in Taiwan. He then spent over 40 minutes walking through the crowd shaking hands, including the hand of Prince Roy. Even though I didn't get to shake A-bian's hand I can at least say I shook the hand that shook A-bian's hand! Also Darren took a great photo just moments after the one I took above.  

Tsai Ing-wen, Chen Shui-bian, Annette Lu and Yeh Chu-lan at Taiwan Democracy Hall on 28 February 2008

President Chen, along with former Vice-Premier Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文), Vice-President Lu and Presidential Office Secretary-General Yeh Chu-lan (葉菊蘭) then awaited the arrival of the Walk Against the Wind (逆風前進.最愛台灣) march participants. The "Walk Against the Wind" began in Eluanbi, the southern tip of Taiwan, on 5 February. Young Taiwanese people participated in the march in support of Frank Hsieh's Presidential election campaign. 

President Chen Shui-bian greets participants in the Walk Against the Wind march at Taiwan Democracy Hall, 28 Feb 2008

The participants were all individually greeted by A-bian, Annette Lu, Yeh Chu-lan and Tsai Ying-wen. A-bian gave out high fives, hugs and hand shakes to the participants.

After A-bian departed the crowds soon dispersed, with many joining the march to Zhongshan Stadium for the evening rally. There was then a mini-convergence of Taiwan bloggers with Darren, Craig, Prince Roy, Poagao and Mark all present.  

DPP supporters march through Taipei on 28 February 2008

Along with Craig and Darren I took the MRT to Zhongshan Station and we then went to the corner of Zhongshan and Chang'an Roads to watch the march go past. It was a wonderfully noisy sea of green flag waving and friendly faces. 

DPP 228 rally at Zhongshan Stadium in Taipei, 28 Feb 2008

Finally we arrived at Zhongshan Stadium for the "Love & Trust 228" rally where we met Todd. The stadium was packed  and we went around taking photos and absorbing the atmosphere.

Frank Hsieh and Su Tseng-chang at the DPP’s 228 rally at Zhongshan Stadium, Taipei, 28 February 2008

The rally reached its climax with speeches by Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) and Frank Hsieh (謝長廷). Again the speeches here were mostly in Hoklo Taiwanese so check the newspapers for reports about what they said. 

Amis aborigines perform at the DPP 228 rally in Taipei

After Hsieh and Su left the stage a group of Amis aborigines came on stage to perform. Their singing and dancing was very nice and well worth staying on for.  

* * * * *

With the Presidential election less than one month away it was inevitable that the day would be packed with political events and campaigning. I wrote about 228 on this blog last year. What happened in 1947 continues to influence Taiwanese society today. 228 is a scar that has not been fully healed and there is still a long way to go to achieving genuine transitional justice. It is important that the event continue to be studied and understood by everyone in Taiwan. If Ma Ying-jeou is elected President then it is quite likely 228 will no longer be a public holiday in Taiwan.  

No peace without justice. Never forget.  

*more photos in the 228 in Taipei set at flickr. 

14 thoughts on “228 Memorial Day in Taipei

  1. Pingback: Chen’s Last Act | CraigFergusonImages

  2. Pingback: 228 Rally at Zhongshan Stadium « The Daily Bubble Tea

  3. has Ma actually come out and said that? I haven’t heard anything along those lines from either him or the LY. If so, it doesn’t seem very wise from a political standpoint.

  4. Dear David, why do you think that if Ma Ying-jeou is elected President then it is quite likely 228 will no longer be a public holiday in Taiwan? 🙂

  5. Prince Roy, I am only speculating about the future of the 228 holiday. I personally hope the day will continue to be marked with a holiday regardless of who is in government. If Ma becomes President and maintains the 228 holiday then he will at least get a few words of praise from me.

  6. I don’t think so. But if Ma Ying-jeou is selected President and cancel 228 as public holiday, I will think he is not suitable President.

  7. According to the report in Taiwan News.

    KMT presidential candidate Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) grabbed local media headlines at the Chiayi memorial service when he said that the KMT leader during the time of the 228 Incident was corrupt and incompetent.

    Ma added that an apology and acknowledgement of wrongdoing would simply not be enough, saying that people must remember the 228 Incident so that mistakes are not repeated.

    Ma said that if he is elected as president, he would pen biographies about the victims of the 228 Incident and engage in relevant research.

    Ma-228

  8. It was nice to get out and see everybody. I must have been the only one there not lugging a huge camera!

    No peace without justice. Never forget.

    I’m sure it isn’t intentional, but this slogan sounds a little scary. Similar slogans have lead to thousands of years of violence and vendettas in the middle east.

    I’m not saying justice isn’t important. It is. It’s just that making it a prerequisite for peace inspires images of violence and terror. Maybe there’s a way to phrase it that would remove those connotations.

  9. Mark, it is not necessary to equate justice with vengeance or violence. If you go back to my post about transitional justice I wrote:

    I think a key point is that transitional justice is not merely about seeking revenge or punishment for past wrongs. It also looks toward reconciliation, institutional reform and ensuring the wrongs of the past are not repeated.

    Another way to look at it is that justice is the foundation of peace. If a society is unjust then it will not be peaceful. The corollary of this is of course that justice must be achieved by peaceful means.

  10. how about writing something about foreign workers in taiwan??? just a thought,,,,i’m a filipina… thanks

  11. yeng, one of my research topics this semester is racism and discrimination in Taiwan so I am sure I will have something to write about this in the next few months. Also if you go through the archives in the human rights category you will find a few articles about foreign workers.

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