Special Exhibition
The Power of Words–Folk Publications on the February 28 Incident

 發佈日期:2020-02-11

Date:Feb 22, 2020 – Aug 16, 2020
Opening Hours:10:00 to 17:00, from Tuesday to Sunday
Venue: National 228 Memorial Museum(No.54, Nanhai Rd., Zhongzheng Dist., Taipei City 100, Taiwan)
Closed Day: Every Monday
Advised by the Ministry of the Interior, Taiwan
Organized by the Memorial Foundation of 228, National 228 Memorial Museum
Implemented by: Anchor Culture Co., Ltd.

In 1947, at the end of World War II and during the transformation of regime, the February 28 Incident occurred in Taiwan. Following the incident, Taiwan was imposed an over 38-year-long consecutive martial law period, bringing the society into a time of the white terror during which freedom of speech and freedom of expression were restricted.

Although, the historical wound of the February 28 Incident has become an unspeakable taboo during the martial law period, however, many pioneer activists still fought for redressing and revealing the truth. The power and energy emerged form the civil society were delivered to the public through written words, which were either published abroad or domestically via informal channels that were at the risk of being banned, showing the power of folk publications and leaving a historical trace for the investigation and research of the truth of the February 28 Incident.

 

Corridor of Time

The timeline, which presents the publishing time of various official and non-governmental publications between 1947 and 2019, shows the release status of related publications since the February 28 Incident to date, and the subtle relationships of either competition or cooperation between the official and folk publications under the influence of the environment.

 

Prohibition and Roar

The Civil War between the KMT and Chinese Communist, which occurred right after the February 28 Incident, intensified the measures of long period of martial law in Taiwan. The government, therefore set the tone for the Incident as "riot", "communist incitement", and "Taiwan independence" through propaganda, slandering participants as "mobs", thus the February 28 Incident became taboo under the authoritarian government.

However, the pursuit and investigation about the truth of the February 28 Incident have never disappeared among the people. At the beginning of the Incident, several newspapers revealed the truth of the authorities' corruption and public responses, leaving valuable historical data. Although the reprinting of overseas publications, and the publishing of magazine articles during the martial law period that were constantly banned in the era of restricted publication, were still the main channels for understanding and spreading the February 28 Incident. After the 1980s, the topic gradually attracted public attention with loosening of the political atmosphere, and the "228 Righteous Peace Movement" was later launched by the civil society, prompting the victims and witnesses to stop being silent, and the long-lost history was finally revealed.

 

Banned Public Opinion

In the early days, the government described the February 28 Incident as "riots," "communist incitement," and "Taiwan independence”, and forbade the people to search for the truth. Looking back this policy seemed obviously ridiculous and absurd, but in the era when opinions and speeches were restrained, it was regarded as an unquestionable truth.

 

The Roaring Age

In contrast to the Central Daily News whose reports were often in favor with the government, the Taiwan Shin Sheng Daily News published an article on February 28 saying "the seizure of cigarette smuggler last night results in death of 2 civilians”. The editorial on March 1 titled "The Testimony of the Yanping Road Incident", commented on the background of the illicit cigarette investigation, the state of maladjustment in Taiwanese society at that time, and the appeal to the authorities for follow-up treatment. From March 2 to March 8, the Taiwan Shin Sheng Daily News extensively covered the activities of the 228 Incident Processing Committee. Additionally, the people's appeals made the headlines, and the protests and the actions of students became the focus of the news and were known to the whole country.

Due to the strict censorship in publishing industry during the over 38-year-long martial law period, it resulted in little room for the written words related to February 28 Incident in Taiwan. At that time, most of the relevant works related to the February 28 Incident were from overseas, and then spread in a low-key manner in Taiwanese society through informal and underground channels. These authors were mostly witnesses of the February 28 Incident. Through personal observations, data collection and preservation, they left precious data for the later researches.

 

Writing About the February 28 Incident

In the 1990s, after the lifting of the martial law, the society more concerned about the February 28 Incident. The publications related to the event flourished and formed a force that pushed for the truth. This force emerged from the civic society shows the multi-faceted discussions on the research, investigations, dictations, records, literary creations of the February 28 Incident. It also aroused the public's attention and understanding of the history of Taiwan.

Me, In the Midst of the February 28 Incident
  • With the loosening of the political policy after the lifting of martial law, the parties involved in the February 28 Incident such as the family of the victims, and the witnesses began to be willing to overcome long-term suppression and fear of speaking out and revealed the long-forgotten history. Through interviews, or organizing articles from ancestral letters and relics, the publications that recorded the historical events and characters as the main narrative content not only demonstrated their life course, but also a different narrative angle from the official history, and complement the details that were easily neglected in official writing.
  • Starting from the 1990s, there have been oral history interview records of the February 28 Incident published by non-officials based on different regions. Among them, the Independent Evening Post released several publications including "228 in Kavalan: Oral History of 228 at Yilan" in 1992, "Tragedy Station 228" in 1993, "228 in Keelung, Port of Rain" and "228 in Chiayi, Tropic of Cancer" in 1994. Meanwhile, San-lien Wu's Taiwan Historical Materials Foundation (Taiwan Center) published "228 at Chiayi Train Station", "228 in Zhuluoshan City " and "228 in Jiayun country", "228 in Nangan , Taipei” in 1995 and "228 in Taipei Metropolis", and “228 in Tamsui River" in 1996 , "228 in Hualien Fenglin" in 2001 and "228 in Hsinchu , City of Wind” in 2014.
  • In addition to non-governmental publications, after year 2000, the administrative agencies/ institutes also began to publish related books. For example, "Crying in the Wind-Hsinchu White Terror Political Case in the 1950s (volume 1 & 2)” was published by the Department of Cultural Affairs of Hsinchu City Government in 2002 and edited by Yan-xian Zhang, " the 228 at the shore of Zhuoshui River: Oral History Interviews " edited by Yi-shen Chen, published by the 228 Memorial Foundation in 2009, and the “228 in Changhua: Oral History Interview: Volume 1” published by Changhua County Department of Cultural Affairs in 2010.
  • Through these publications, it is possible to get a glimpse of the true state of the counties and cities in the February 28 Incident, and through many first-hand information that were uncovered for the first time, many valuable clues to the truth of the February 28 Incident were revealed to the world.
  • Of the 15 books on display in this exhibition, four books published by the Independent Evening Post in the 1990s and one (volume 1& 2) book published by the Department of Cultural Affairs of Hsinchu City Government in 2002 were all reprinted by San-lian Wu Taiwan Historical Materials Foundation (Taiwan Center) beginning from 2011 and were made into a series.
The Road to the Truth
  • Under the special time-space context of martial law, the discussion of the February 28 Incident was an absolute taboo. However, the investigation and revelation of the truth of the Incident have never ceased. Since 1983, dangwai (“outside-the-party”) magazines such as the "Bell, Drum and Gong" issued by Tian-fu Huang, "Deep Cultivation" sponsored by Rong-shu Xu, and "Forward" founded by Zheng-jie Lin, have been discussing the February 28 Incident with huge coverage. The dangwai magazines banned by the government were even seized at the printing house. This power and energy emerged from the civic society, through written words, circulated underground and finally brought more people to the known of the incident and even got involved in the movement. On February 13, 1987, activists like Yong-xing Chen, Sheng-xiong Li, Nan-rong Zheng, connected 36 Taiwanese groups from Taiwan and abroad, and launched the "228 Peace Day Promotion Association" to break the taboo that lasted for 40 years by holding speeches and parades, asking the government to publicly commemorate the February 28 Incident, to reveal the truth of the incident as well as to redress the grievances. Despite the suppression of the authority, they never ceased to pursue the truth, which encouraged more victims and their families to come forward, which opened the public discussion in the society of the different aspects of the February 28 Incident. "Transitional justice" works were advocated in Taiwan for the first time.
  • With the publishing of the official investigation reports after the lifting of martial law, and the declassification and application of domestic and foreign archives, the tone of the investigations of the February 28 Incident has gradually shifted the from exposing the truth abruptly and fiercely to taking a higher perspective to re-examine the background of the Incident from a political, social, economic and cultural perspective. In addition, a more complete academic discussion based on the international perspectives, historical memories, and the attribution of the responsibility of the incident, was conducted. A macro and rigorous understanding of the February 28 Incident provides a solid foundation for contemporary Taiwan to further discuss transformation justice.
It's For Love, Not Hate – Literature 228
  • The February 28 Incident has long been playing a symbolic role in the literature world, representing the voice of protest against all autocratic dictatorships in postwar Taiwanese political society. It not only depicts the conflict between Taiwanese local residents and mainlanders, also the protest of the most ordinary people against a life shadowed by the white terror.
  • The reason of the February 28 Incident became a literary subject, which has been told repeatedly for more than half a century, is because of its significance as a literary symbol that even far exceeds how the historical event itself was recognized. Today when we discuss the theme of the February 28 Incident in literature, we have to place this phenomenon in the midst of the interaction between the social-historical environment and the literature to actually see the transcendence of literature over historical events that further became a classic topic of Taiwanese literature.
  • The literary works on this display include "Figs", "Chief of Potsdam", "Taiwan Forsythia", " 228 Taiwan Novel Selection", "Raging Waves", "Burying Grievances in 1947", "Gun Sound", "The Flower on the Wound", "Grandma's Bowl ", the genre covers novels, poetry, and children's picture books.

 

Yi-ren Zhong, Freezing the Young Years that Failed to Blossom and Wrote “The Bitter 60 Year” (1921-)

Mr. Yi-ren Zhong born in 1921 in Taidung, Taichung, He studied French Literature at the Tokyo Foreign Language College during the Japanese colonial period. Later, he returned to Taiwan because of his father's health conditions. After the end of World War II, Mr. Zhong participated in the "Three People's Principles Youth League" and later served as the director of the Peace Daily at Chiayi Branch. In 1947, after the outbreak of the February 28 Incident, Mr. Zhong and Kui Yang printed flyers and promote to organize a citizen meeting. On March 4, the "228 Processing Committees" were founded in various parts of Taiwan. Students in Taichung responded by joining the "Democratic Defense Force" called by Mr. Zhong. After preliminary reorganization, Mr. Zhong canceled the "Democratic Defense Force" and established the "27 Brigade" and acted as the captain of the brigade. To avoid hurting the civilians of Taichung during the battle with the national army, he retreated to Puli, Nantou. Although the 27 Brigade and the reorganized 21 Division of the National Army had several exchanges of fire, it was still disbanded because of the lack of human resources. He was arrested while fleeding and was sentenced to 15 years in prison for "Offenses against the internal security of the state." After serving his sentence, he was transferred to a labor camp in Xiaoliuqiu for additional 2 years without trial, thus freezing the best 17 years in his youth life.

After being released from prison in 1964, Mr. Zhong moved to Beidou, Changhua and devoted himself to his algae farming business. During this time, he was still under surveillance and was forced to remain silence on politics. On February 28, 1987, Mr. Zhong, as a victim of the February 28 Incident, was invited to tour Washington DC, Houston, New Orleans, Atlanta, New York, USA and Toronto, Canada to tell the truth of the Incident as well as shares his own experiences. In 1988, Qiao Li encouraged Mr. Zhong to write an autobiography. “The Bitter 60 Years” was thus published. It was the first biography written by a victim of the February 28 Incident, leaving precious historical materials for the Incident and the white terror time as well as the misery of Taiwanese under authoritarianism. In 2014, Mr. Zhong wrote a biography of Guerrilla Physician Jian-di Chen (1907-1986), "Unsinkable Heart-Jiandi Chen and the Taiwanese Doctors at the End of World War II", recording the dark and sad life of this intellectual.

Professor Yan-xian Zhang commented on the book "The Bitter 60 Years," saying that the autobiography was valuable historical data of the February 28 Incident. He could use Mr. Zhong's interpersonal network to build the images of contemporary characters and clarify the incident through the reports of the parties. The incident was a concrete manifestation of the people's resistance under anger and disappointment. It is expected that the world learn from experience and move towards a brighter future.

 

“Good Night, Father” – Ms. Bi-chu Ng, who spent a lifetime searching for the truth of her father's disappearing

Born in 1928, Ms. Bi-chu Ng, grow up to be an elegant and sensitive lady who was passionate about art under the care of her father, Mr. Tiau-jit, Ng, general manager of Taiwan Shin Sheng Daily News. However, after the February 28 Incident in 1947, Taiwan Shin Sheng Daily News’ honest report on the Incident made Mr. Ng a target of revenge. On March 12, it was supposed to be a day of joy, as Ms. Bi-chu Ng returned home after she got married for the first time. However, it turned out to be the time when the ill Mr. Ng was taken from home and has never returned.

Ms. Ng never gave up on searching for her father. She buried herself in the library to collect information, and went to search for the survivors of the Incident all around Taiwan. During the process, she not only discovered the truth about her father’s missing but also revealed the truth about the Incident.

In 1992, 45 years after Mr. Tiau-jit Ng was taken away, Ms. Ng's book "45 Years of Solitude and Suffer" was published, and she expected, "For my dad and his friends, and for many innocent people who have lost their lives, I want to make a small contribution. With the support of many people, I want to make public the historical data I collected to the world. In this way, my pining wouldn’t be for nothing. My parents in heaven would agree with this.

The same year, Ms. Ng also published "The Cry in the Dark Corner", a book that records the stories of 80 victims and their families. She said, "What we fight for is the innocence of our fathers and brothers; what we want to fight for is the responsible attitude of the government; what we want to fight for is a correct history." As Ms. Ng said, "Maybe it is by stepping out of the cage bravely and actively appearing in the reconstruction of the historical image of Taiwan will I be truly liberated.”

 

Pioneer in the Research of February 28 Incident-Professor Yan-xian Zhang (1947-2014)

Professor Yan-xian Zhang (1947-2014), from Chiayi, Ph.D. in History from the University of Tokyo. Professor Zhang has been actively engaged in social movements since 1986, especially the 228 rehabilitation movement, and interviewed the victims of February 28 Incident, victims of the white terror, Taiwanese Japan soldiers, and Taiwanese national army along with overseas Taiwan independence activists. He spent a lot of time visiting places to conduct oral historical interviews. Starting from 1993, he started to organize and publish the oral records of the victims of the February 28 Incident, the victims of the white terror, and the forerunners of the Taiwan independence movement that were abroad.

Professor Yan-xian Zhang became the director of the National History Museum in 2000. During his term, the National History Museum published "Research Report on Responsibility for 228 Massacre", "Compilation of the Files on February 28 Incident" and "The Dictionary of the 228 Incident".

In 1992, 45 years after Mr. Tiau-jit Ng was taken away, Ms. Ng's book "45 Years of Solitude and Suffer" was published, and she expected, "For my dad and his friends, and for many innocent people who have lost their lives, I want to make a small contribution. With the support of many people, I want to make public the historical data I collected to the world. In this way, my pining wouldn’t be for nothing. My parents in heaven would agree with this.

 

Tree with Love and Hope

Taiwan entered the state of martial law in 1949 and the law wasn’t lifted until 1987. For nearly 40 years, the government implemented the "Taiwan Newspaper, Magazine and Books Regulations in Martial Law Period". Freedom of publication and speech was severely restricted by the state. Thereafter, the long history of censorship of books and magazines in Taiwan did not really end until the "Publishing Law" was abolished in 1999.

Since the 1990s, the rich and diverse publications related to the February 28 Incident have shown the enthusiasm and efforts of all sectors of society for the incident, and also demonstrated the democratization process of Taiwan after the Incident. The various arguments and viewpoints of the February 28 Incidents also reflect that the Taiwanese society is still under collision and challenges of such topic.

Each publication is like a tree planted, and the power of words is entangled in people's hearts like the roots. One day, it will be full of leaves and flowers. As the poet chants: "Hope grows like the leaves under photosynthesis. The lush tree shadows will soothe the injured land. The cool green shades will comfort the painful heart." The discovering of historical scars is not for hatred, but for us to remember the lessons and guard the island like our predecessors used to. We need to keep the hope and love as we walk toward the future.

“Song of Love and Hope” Ming-yong Lee, 1993

Plant a tree in our land

Not for hate, but for love

On the day of 228

You and I together

We will think about the family we lost.

Plant a tree in our hearts

Not for death, but for hope

On the day of 228

You and I together

We will comfort each other, not grieve together.

From every leaf

Grow love and hope

Tree will root in our land

Tree will reach into the sky

Look at the stars that shine

Above the trees in the dark sky