On the eve of 228 Peace Memorial Day, the statue of late President Chiang Kai-shek that sits in the Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall in Taipei’s Liberty Square, a favored tourist attraction, was splashed black paint over it by members of pro-independence Taiwan Republic Campaign before the guards had time to stop them. The vandals were shouting that truth of 228 incident be unveiled as they were arrested and taken away.
The 228 Incident, ignited in February 28, 1947 in Taipei when tobacco and wine monopoly officials tried to seize untaxed cigarettes, led to a full-scale riot between locals and “wai-sheng-jen”, those who came from mainland China. Many fell victims to the subsequent bloody suppression committed by troops sent to Taiwan by KMT government in Nanjing to restore peace and order.
Chiang Kai-shek, then the supreme leader of the Republic of China, was named to be responsible for the bloodshed. In 1949, defeated by Chinese communists during the civil war, Chiang and his government fled to Taiwan and imposed a 38-year long martial law. During which time 228 Incident became a taboo and no one dared to talk about it in public. It was until a few years after the death of Chiang Jing-kuo, Chiang’s son and successor, that the victims and their families of this tragedy were legally compensated and their stained names restored. However, the once tabooed 228 soon became a preferred symbol adopted by pro-Taiwan independence parties and used in every election against their KMT adversaries.
Peace never comes easy and vandalizing Chiang’s statue is an irrational and unlawful act that does not help mend the broken hearts of the victims’ families.