Online Exhibition After 228 - How the generations talk
Date：Dec 7, 2019 – May 17, 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
The February 28 Incident in 1947, resulting from the seizure of contraband cigarettes in front of Tianma Tea House in Taipei, led to the death of many among the Taiwanese social elites and the violation of the lives, bodies, freedoms, and properties of innocent citizens. As the Kuomintang party was losing the Chinese Civil War in 1949, martial law was once again declared in Taiwan in the same year and was enforced for 38 long years, leaving a lasting impact on the country.
During the period of martial law, the February 28 Incident was a taboo topic, and many Taiwanese were unable to be familiar with the history of the island. As online communities have well developed in recent years, more people have begun to turn their attention to contemporary social issues outside the formal education system. Based on historical research, the creators attempt to portray stories on this land from perspectives that vary with the rise of democracy and reflect the different perceptions of the February 28 Incident among generations. As the differences create possibilities for dialogues, we hope to gain a deeper understanding of the February 28 Incident, democracy as well as human rights.
Facts about the February 28 Incident
What is the February 28 Incident? For the families of the victims, it is a wound that can never heal; for the general public, a national holiday; and for young students, perhaps a mere exam question. The February 28 Incident - more than a protest in 1947 resulting from the seizure of contraband cigarettes - represents the culmination of numerous factors, including myriad policy failures in Chen Yi's administration after the war and cultural clashes between the Taiwanese and the Chinese after 50 years of separation. During the Incident and subsequent events, the “countryside purification” by the Nationalist Government forces and the disappearance of the Taiwanese social elites throughout the island made the Incident a major tragedy in Taiwan's modern history. Discussions regarding the Incident only began to surface after the lifting of martial law. Does today’s society, however, have a more objective understanding of the Incident? By constantly questioning history, we try to find the cause and effect along with reveal the truths of history.
The Monopoly Bureau of Taiwan Province was in charge of the sales of camphor, table salt, tobacco, and alcohol, raking in considerable profits. In the early post-war period, the Bureau was plagued with corruption, and smuggling was rampant. Investigators, who often lacked training, were unfavorably by the public at that time.
Cigarette confiscation conflict
An investigator of the Monopoly Bureau caught a lady named Lin Chiang-mai selling contraband cigarettes in front of Tianma Tea House in Taipei. Conflict ensued with the mishandling of the situation by the investigator, who subsequently misfired his weapon and fatally wounded a bystander, Chen Wen-hsi, causing outrage.
The Taiwan Shin Sheng Daily News, a newspaper run by the Taiwan Provincial Administrative Executive Office. On the night of the cigarette confiscation conflict on February 27, people flocked to the newspaper office demanding truthful reporting. Under such pressure, for the following days, the newspaper published news articles regarding the February 28 Incident from across the island.
On February 28, the day following the cigarette confiscation conflict, as the fatality had not been addressed, Taipei City citizens took to the streets to call for a general strike. Citizens and businesses answered the call by closing down their stores.
Gunshot Incident at the Taiwan Provincial Administrative Executive Office
On February 28, angry crowds took to the streets to protest against the Monopoly Bureau. The crowds turned to the Taiwan Provincial Administrative Executive Office in the afternoon and filed a complaint , demanding Chief Executive Chen Yi to solve the issues. Guards on the second floor of the office building, however fired into the crowds, killing and wounding many. This event caused the conflict to rapidly spread, forming an island-wide uprising.
The February 28 Incident Settlement Committee
On March 1, members of The Taipei City Council, the National Assembly, and Taiwan Provincial Consultative Council organized the Cigarette and Murder Investigation Committee and demanded that Chief Executive Chen Yi lift martial law, released arrested citizens, and prohibited the police and the military from using firearms. Chen Yi accepted all of the demands. The committee was subsequently renamed the February 28 Incident Settlement Committee.
The February 28 Incident Settlement Committee proposed a political reform plan with 32 settlement guidelines, including universal suffrage in elections for city mayors or county magistrates, abolishing the Monopoly Bureau, protection against arbitrary arrests, and guaranteeing from freedoms of speech, the press, and assembly.
Radio station were essential channels of communication to deliver messages at the time. After the cigarette confiscation conflict, citizens of Taipei used the Taiwan Broadcasting Station (now the Taipei 228 Memorial Museum) to spread news regarding the murder. At critical moments of the uprising, the Chiayi Broadcasting Station also called for citizens in neighboring areas to join the protest at Shueishang Airport.
Martial law was implemented multiple times during the period of the February 28 Incident. After the February 28 protests grew in scale, Chen Yi announced the implementation of martial law in Taipei City, and lifted martial law the following day on the demand of the Settlement Committee. On March 9, after the 21st Division of the reorganized army arrived in Taiwan, Chen Yi implemented martial law on the entire island, disbanded the Settlement Committee, and closed down newspaper publishers.
The 21st Division of the reorganized army landed at the ports of Keelung and Kaohsiung and commenced an island-wide arrest operation. From militia who put up armed resistance to the social elite who urged peaceful reform, all were purged and hunted by the Military Police Special Services Company.
On March 17, Minister of National Defense Bai Chong-xi arrived in Taiwan for inspection. On March 20, Chen Yi issued his “Open Letter to the People of Taiwan Regarding the Purification of the Countryside.” The “purification” campaign was carried out by checking household registration and confiscating weapons. Throughout the campaign, citizens were arrested and executed without conducting a judicial trial.
As the February 28 Incident spread throughout Taiwan, in addition to helping maintain social order, students and faculty from many schools joined the protests, including Taiwan University, Taiwan Provincial Normal College, Yanping Academy, Taichung Private Chienkuo Trade and Arts School, Chiayi High School, and Kaohsiung First High School.
The February 28 Incident, which profoundly affected Taiwan, reflected in literature as well. Some subject matters were the armed resistance of citizens, such as in “Nongcun ziweidui” (Village Self-defense Unit) and “Taiwandao shang xie he hen” (Blood and Hate on Taiwan Island). Other works, such as Wuhuaguo (The Fig Tree) and Taiwan lienciao (Pigeonberry) by Wu Zhuo-liu, depicted the dark side of politics.
Since the 1950s, in addition to holding annual commemorative events, Taiwanese people in Japan and the U.S. also published reports and analyses relevant to the Incident. The first full report on the February 28 Incident was published in the “228 Special Issue” of the Taiwan Seinen in 1961.
The February 28 Incident has become a historical discourse for democracy and freedom. Since the 1980s, relevant reports began appearing in outside-the-party (tang-wai) magazines, including Progress Weekly, Deep Cultivation, and Political Monitor, all of which were strictly banned by the government.
Formosa Betrayed, published in 1965, was written by George Henry Kerr, the American vice-consul in Taiwan. In the book, Kerr documents his personal experiences during the February 28 Incident and advocates for the Taiwanese people’s right to self-determination. His work served as political enlightenment for many students abroad, who began supporting Taiwan’s independence.
228 Peace Memorial Day
In 1987, on the 40th anniversary of the Incident, Chen Yung-hsing (president of the Taiwan Association for Human Rights), Li Sheng-syong (lawyer), and Cheng Nan-jung (founder of the Freedom Era weekly) formed the 228 Peace Promotion Association to demand a public memorial for the Incident, disclosure of the facts about the Incident, and official address for the injustices surrounding the Incident.
The February 28 Incident has been portrayed in many cinematic works. Examples include A City of Sadness (1989), which depicts the Taiwanese society of the early post-war period; March of Happiness (1999), which reflects the cultural clashes of the time; and Shanghen 228 (Scars of 228) (2005), which represents the history of the Incident through reenactments of conversations and events during the time.
The first monument for the Incident organized by the public, was completed in 1989 on Mituo Road, Chiayi City. The first national monument of the Incident was completed in 1995 in 228 Peace Memorial Park, Taipei City. The inscription, however, was not added until 1997 as the families of the victims protest about the unclear truth.
In 1995, on the 48th anniversary of the February 28 Incident, the head of state, President Lee Teng-hui on behalf of the government apologized for the first time to the families of the victims of the Incident as well as to all nationals at the inauguration ceremony of the 228 monument.
In 1991, the 228 Incident Task Force was formed under the Executive Yuan, in charge of investigations and research into the Incident. The Incident was considered politically taboo in the past, historical data was sparse, and the members of the task force had to travel to all corners of the island to collect data and conduct interviews. The “Report of the February 28 Incident” released in 1992, was the first time the government that reported the 228 Incident.
Peace Memorial Day
February 228 was designated as Peace Memorial Day in 1995 for the first time and was a commemorative day without a holiday. The day became a national holiday in 1997.
Taiwan Lily was aired in 2004. Beginning with the February 228 Incident, the TV series depicted the persecution against the Taiwanese people during the era of White Terror from the 1960s to 1970s following the Incident.
From restitution to compensation
In 1995, the February 28 Incident Disposition and Restitution Act was legislated and promulgated, and the February 28 Memorial Foundation was established. In 2007, the aforementioned act was renamed the February 28 Incident Disposition and Compensation Act and continues to pay compensation for the victims.
National Memorial Museum
The National 228 Memorial Museum was opened in 2011. The building was the historical site of the Taiwan Provincial Consultative Council in 1946,. After the February 28 Incident, many members of the Taiwan Provincial Consultative Council were disappeared or wanted by law enforcement. The location is considered as one of the important historical sites.
History as Taught in Textbooks
History textbooks should be consistent with historical facts. During the era that all school textbooks were edited and compiled uniformly by the National Institute for Compilation and Translation, the history of Taiwan was not fully taught and the February 28 Incident was not even included in all levels of the curriculum as well as the textbooks.
A series of democratic movements have helped to change the political and social atmosphere in the late 1980s, a short 58-word description of the Incident was eventually added to textbooks for high schools in 1990.
Reclaiming a willfully forgotten history is the first step in confronting the memories of the February 28 Incident. In 1995, the Ministry of Education confirmed policy of the “one guideline for multiple texts” that allows schools to choose textbooks from a range of publishers. With this development, schools have been able to convey the outline of the Incident to future generations, who are expected to gradually face the past and understand our each period of history from history textbooks for high schools.
Brief History of Modern Taiwan／The February 28 Incident occurred.
Brief History of Modern Taiwan／Martial law was implemented on May 20.
How is the history taught in high school ?／The “ High School Curriculum Standard” promulgated by the Ministry of Education stated that the main purpose of the subject of history was to inspire in the youth the responsibility of reviving the nation. The retrocession of Taiwan into China was covered, however, the February 28 Incident was not covered in the curriculum.
Brief History of Modern Taiwan／The Republic of China left the United Nations on October 25.
How is the history taught in high school ?／Standard Curriculum of 1971- In light of the Nine-year Compulsory Education implemented in 1968, the Ministry of Education revised the “ High School Curriculum Standard.” The subject of the February 28 Incident was excluded from the curriculum. However, in view of the international situation, Taiwan’s retrocession into China was changed to retrocession into the Republic of China.
How is the history taught in high school ?／Standard Curriculum of 1983- In accordance with the Senior High School Act, the Ministry of Education promulgated the revised “Curricular Standard and Implementation Rules for High Schools.” The subject of the February 28 Incident remained excluded from the curriculum.
Brief History of Modern Taiwan／The 228 Peace Promotion Association was established on February 28. The first march in the name of 228 was held. Martial law is lifted on July 15.
Brief History of Modern Taiwan／Lee Teng-hui was sworn in as the 7th President and addressed the views on the 228 Incident for the first time. The Historical Research Committee of Taiwan Province conducted oral history interviews from across Taiwan.
Brief History of Modern Taiwan／The first private-built 228 monument was completed on Mituo Road, Chiayi City.
Brief History of Modern Taiwan／A moment of silence was observed for the first time in the Legislative Yuan for the victims of the February 28 Incident, in response to the public’s expectation of confronting a dark period in history. March student movement (Wild Lily Student Movement)
How is the history taught in high school ?／With the pro-democracy movements before and after the lifting of martial law, along with the government addressing the February 28 Incident for the first time in the 1990s, a 58-word description regarding the Incident was approved to be included in high school teaching material.
Brief History of Modern Taiwan／The first National Assembly passed amendments to the Constitution of the Republic of China and abolished the Temporary Provisions against the Communist Rebellion. The Executive Yuan formed the 228 Incident Task Force during the Lee Teng-hui administration.
Brief History of Modern Taiwan／The Executive Yuan released the “Report of the February 28 Incident.”
How is the history taught in high school ?／Standard Curriculum of 1983- After the release of the “Report of the February 28 Incident,” content was added to textbooks covering the situation in Taiwan before the February 28 Incident, impact on innocent citizens, and the establishment of the 228 Incident Task Force by the Executive Yuan.
Brief History of Modern Taiwan／The 504-page “Report of the February 28 Incident” of the Executive Yuan was published by China Times Publishing Co.
Brief History of Modern Taiwan／The first 228 monument erected by the central government (without inscription) was inaugurated in Taipei New Park. resident Lee Teng-hui on behalf of the government apologized to the families of victims of the Incident as well as to all nationals. The Legislative Yuan passed the February 28 Incident Disposition and Restitution Act and designated February 28 as Peace Memorial Day - a commemorative day without a holiday. The Executive Yuan established the February 28 Memorial Foundation, which was responsible for accepting compensation application and issuance, organizing memorial events as well as conducting investigations.
How is the history taught in high school ?／With the release of the “Report of the February 28 Incident,” presidential apology, and the restitution act, content was added to textbooks covering these events while describing the Taiwan Provincial Administrative Executive Office’s unique military-administrative system in the early post-war period and the tremendous disappointment among the Taiwanese public in their retrocession into the motherland. Meanwhile, as the Ministry of Education confirmed the “one guideline for multiple texts” policy, history education was set on a path away from partisan control.
Brief History of Modern Taiwan／Taipei New Park was renamed to 228 Peace Memorial Park.
Brief History of Modern Taiwan／The Peace Memorial Day was made as a national holiday on the 50th anniversary of the February 28 Incident. The Taipei 228 Memorial Museum opened on the same day.
Brief History of Modern Taiwan／The Compensation Act for Wrongful Trials on Charges of Sedition and Espionage during the Martial Law Period was promulgated.
How is the history taught in high school ?／Curriculum Guidelines of1999- Textbooks were edited based on the “one guideline for multiple texts” policy of the 1995 “ Curriculum Standard for High School History.” This was the first amendment to the curriculum guidelines since the lifting of martial law. Textbooks explained the standoff between the policies and civilians on February 27 resulting from the seizing of contraband cigarettes and the gunshot incident at the Taiwan Provincial Administrative Executive Office that sparked the February 28 Incident. The textbooks also covered the mishandling of the situation by the administration after the Incident, including the countryside purification campaign and wrongful trials, naming government officials at fault, including Chen Yi, Ko Yuan-fen, and Peng Meng-qi.
Brief History of Modern Taiwan／The Ministry of Education established the Committee for Promoting Human Rights Education.
How is the history taught in high school ?／The Ministry of Education published a draft of the Temporary Guidelines for Senior High SchoolCurriculum. Taiwanese history was dedicated to a separate volume in the draft, however, the Chinese history after the late Ming dynasty (including the history of the Republic of China) was categorized into modern world history. In addition, a theory of the Undetermined Status of Taiwan is noted, which sparked controversy. Online posting of the promulgation, therefore was postponed to November 2004.
How is the history taught in high school ?／The Ministry of Education promulgated the amended Temporary Guidelines for Senior High School Curriculum, to be enforced the following year. Temporary Curriculum of 2006 - More detailed explanations regarding the February 28 Incident was added, including the idea of the Taiwan-China cultural gaps in the early post-war period was mentioned for the first time；citing language issues, the authorities made it clear that the number and proportion of high-ranking officials from China who moved to Taiwan after World War II, were relatively high；the name of the victim, Wang Tian-deng was disclosed.
Brief History of Modern Taiwan／The February 28 Memorial Foundation published the “Research Report on Responsibility for the 228 Massacre,” specifically identifying Chiang Kai-shek as the culprit for the Incident.
How is the history taught in high school ?／Curriculum Guidelines of 2012- Explanations were offered regarding the expectations and disappointments among the Taiwanese in terms of politics, economy, society, and culture. The development of the Incident was conveyed step by step from its background, inciting event, political negotiations, armed crackdown, to its impact and recovery.
The Executive Yuan approved the Implementation Program for the 12-year Basic Education to be executed in August 2014. This new curriculum guideline, which overturned the consensus of educational reform since the 2006 Temporary Guidelines, changed the historical elaboration vein from a Taiwan-oriented interpretation of history to be a China-oriented interpretation of history.
Brief History of Modern Taiwan／The Executive Yuan promulgated the Regulations for the Recovery of Educational and Cultural Organizations Affected in the 228 Incident.
Brief History of Modern Taiwan／The first Gongsheng Music Festival was initiated by college students.
How is the history taught in high school ?／The Ministry of Education formed an inspection group of the outside the government structure to execute the adjustment of curriculum guidelines. The review process was completed in January the following year.
Brief History of Modern Taiwan／To protest against the Cross-Strait Service Trade Agreement, college students and citizen groups initiated the month-long 318 Movement (Sunflower Student Movement).
How is the history taught in high school ?／The Ministry of Education, citing the imperative to transition to the 12-year basic education and address the needs of education in practice, passed the adjusted curriculum guidelines for the fields of high school Chinese literature and social studies. The guidelines were promulgated the following month, to be implemented in the 2015-2016 school year. 12-year basic education was implemented.
Brief History of Modern Taiwan／A movement, which targeted controversies surrounding the content of the curriculum guidelines and the approval process, erupted against the adjustment of high school curriculum guidelines and lasted approximately three months.
How is the history taught in high school ?／Movement against the adjustment of high school curriculum guidelines - In view of the curriculum guideline adjustment, the February 28 Incident was discussed separately. As opposed to the 2012 curriculum guidelines where the Incident was placed under the topic of democracy, and Taiwan’s political development after World War II was discussed. Researchers believed that the new curriculum guidelines isolated and decontextualized the Incident, willfully disconnecting from authoritarianism.
How is the history taught in high school ?／The Ministry of Education abolished the adjusted version of the curriculum guidelines and promulgated the restoration of the 2012 curriculum guidelines in the 2016-2017 school year.
How is the history taught in high school ?／The Ministry of Education revised and promulgated the amended General Curriculum Guidelines for the 12-year Basic Education that will be postponed to the 2019-2020 school year as well as be implemented year by year according to different stages of education.
How is the history taught in high school ?／Curriculum Guidelines of 2019- The Curriculum Guidelines for the 12-year Basic Education was officially implemented.
In the past, education curriculum at all levels were designed according to theStandard Curriculum, which had been amended multiple times. In accordance with the planning and implementation of the Nine-year Integrated Curriculum, the high school curriculum has changed accordingly. The Standard Curriculum was replaced with the Curriculum Guidelines, signaling a tremendous shift in school curriculum on a national scale both in form and in essence. In 1995, the Senior High School Curricular Standard Committee set out to amend curriculum guidelines with the stated goal of “adapting to societal transitions and the needs of an open, diverse society.” Thereafter, the high school curriculum guidelines have gone through multiple amendments - not without controversies regarding perspectives and wording - and have evolved toward facilitating critical thinking and analytical skills. Under these guidelines, history textbooks have been able to offer increasingly comprehensive descriptions and explanations of the February 28 Incident, helping students gain a greater understanding of the scars in Taiwan’s history.
Future Development Plan
Fact-based textbooks are the first step toward understanding history. How should we nurture a curiosity for truths in future generations? Pick a sticker that corresponds to your age group and put it on the way you think is best for future generations to further understand such historical issues.
* Pink: under the age of 20; Green: 20 to 40 years old ; Blue: 40 to 60 years old; Yellow: 60 years old or above
Providing a list of books for further reading
Providing supporting evidence for causal links among events
Referencing oral history to enhance historical atmosphere
Adding more stories of victims and their families
Courage and Pursuit in a New Generation
History is more than records of the past; it can reflect the truths valued by different generations through various art forms. In 1953, Tsai Jui-yueh’s dance “Puppets Go into Battle” featured strings attached to dancers to depict the sorrow of a young mother persecuted by the Kuomintang government. Later, with the lifting of martial law, Taiwan’s art circles, which were inspired by Wu Zhuo-liu’s novel Taiwan lienciao (Pigeonberry) and Hou Hsiao-hsien’s film A City of Sadness, have turned their attention to the past.
As historical perspectives begin to mature, creators have recorded their own observations. Some have created novels and comics from literature, some have drawn animation based on a large amount of research. With online exposure, these works have inspired further discussions and reflections. A number of 228-themed works are exhibited to illustrate how creators interpret historical issues.
“Bloody Sacrifice with Color Make-up” by Li Ang, 1996
Complied in the novel, Beigang Incense Burner of Lust, “Bloody Sacrifice with Color Make-up” explores issues of gender identity against the backdrop of a memorial event for the February 28 Incident. Through her use of symbolism and metaphors, the author elucidates the unsaid sorrow and grievances of countless victims uncounted for and overlooked by time. Despite negative public perception on the subject matter during the work’s debut, the author insisted on its publication, hoping to convey that “topics on suppression and oppression remain timelessly relevant.” In 2011, this work was adapted into ballet under the title Die Brautschminkerin (Bridal Makeup) by artistic director Lin Mei-Hong of TANZLIN.Z, the ballet troupe of Austrian Landestheater Linz (Linz State Theater); Most recently performed in 2019 at the National Kaohsiung Center for the Arts in Weiwuying.
“Green Island” by Shawna Yang Ryan, 2016
“Green Island”, which begins on February 28, 1947, depicts the three generations of the family of Dr. Tsai, their personal journeys, and their complex feelings, from the first-person perspective of the female protagonist. The author also employs an omniscient point of view to convey historical facts, bringing to the reader a wide perspective on this dark chapter in history that was inaccessible to individuals of the time. After the female protagonist marries in the U.S. and faces threats and surveillance from special agents, she changes her perception on her father, who is a political prisoner during the February 28 Incident. The title of the book Green Island carries double political meanings - the island that holds political prisoners and White Terror. To this day, the February 228 Incident still lives in the homes of many.
“The Betrayal Trilogy: Disobedience” by Lin Chien-yun, 2016
“The Betrayal Trilogy: Disobedience” focuses on the differences in the social atmosphere before and after the February 28 Incident. The main storyline concerns the separation, reunion, sorrow, and joy of a family in Wandan, Pingtung, and is supplemented by stories of colonialism and immigration. The characters in the book go through internal transitions as they face political change and oppression. The background of Japanese higher education of the characters also allows the storyline to connect to the Taiwan independence movement in Japan during the White Terror era, portraying the dedication of the Taiwanese people in fighting for basic human rights and dignity. The genuine and elegant Taiwanese dialogues weave through the book, implying issue of the Taiwanese identity.
“The Chen Cheng-po Code” by Ko Tsung-ming, 2018
Inspired by the life of painter Chen Cheng-po (1895-1947), “The Chen Cheng-po Code” follows a man and a woman who restore Chen Cheng-po’s paintings and explore the historical shifts in Chen’s life, including his philosophical enlightenment during his studies in Japan, his relationship with a socialism-leaning friend, as well as their difficult choices facing the post-war political turmoil. The book highlights the angst of the Taiwanese people in their quest for a cultural and national identity and honors the brave souls of the victims of the February 28 Incident who undertook suffering.
“Defenders of Bú-Tik Palace” (2014) and “The Guardian of Wuniulan” (2018) by Chthonic
“Defenders of Bú-Tik Palace” is included in the band’s first folk album Timeless Sentence. The protagonist in the song is sent to Southeast Asia during World War II. He survived but was executed by the authoritarian Kuomintang government for his Japanese connections. This mirrors the experience of many Taiwanese people during the February 28 Incident and White Terror, serving as a metaphor for Taiwan’s fate that was out of grasp of its people. Bú-Tik Palace is located in Puli, built in 1937 by Nantou District Office. During the February 28 Incident, the 27 Brigade established its command at Bú-Tik Palace and went on to engage governmental forces in the Battle of Wuniulan.
“The Guardian of Wuniulan“ is included in the album Battlefield of Asura. The song describes the Battle of Wuniulan during the February 28 Incident. The 27 Brigade utilizes the terrain advantage at Wuniulan suspension bridge to fight 700 of governmental troops with 40 soldiers, inflicting heavy casualties on their enemy. Unfortunately, the brigade becomes surrounded and exhausts their ammunition, before burying their weapons and disbanding. Before the release of the album, Chthonic invited six groups of musicians to interpret the song in their respective styles, successfully garnering attention and sparking discussions among online communities - introducing more people to learn about the Battle of Wuniulan.
“The Landscape of Human Rights” by Community Service, 2016
“The Landscape of Human Rights,” which is the first composition by Community Service, is dedicated to activists who hit on the streets and had fought for a better Taiwan. The song portrays the major scenes of human rights movements in Kaohsiung, from the February 28 Incident as well as Ciaotou and Meilidao incidents of 1979 to more recent movements. The beginning of the lyrics vividly describes the progression of the February 28 Incident, from the cigarette confiscation conflict, peace talk, military crackdown, to self-defense units formed by students. Toward the end, the song repeats the lyrics of “never forget,” hoping to remind the listener that the forebears on the path to democracy who fought the government are those who ensured that the youth of today can sing and write in freedom.
“Exuding wounds” by Chiu Tēng-pang, 2019
“Exuding wounds” is an epic Taiwanese folk album written, composed, and performed by Chiu Tēng-pang. The album describes the whole development of the February 28 Incident in 1947, from the Japanese surrender in 1945, the return of Taiwanese people to the island, the sociological and psychological transitions in post-wat Taiwan, to the outbreak of the incident, the military massacre ordered by Chen Yi, and the armed resistance of the 27 Brigade. The “exuding wounds” of the title symbolizes the still-healing injury on the Taiwanese psyche after more than 70 years. The album includes an introductory poem, the opening song, Part 1: The Dogs Go and the Pigs Come with the Retrocession, Part 2: Mists Descending on the Island, Part 3: Exuding Wounds, Part 4: Brave Souls of Taiwan, and the closing song.
“Transitional Justice Episode 1” by The General Association of Chinese Culture and Taiwan Bar, 2019
In 2019, the General Association of Chinese Culture released an animated explainer series titled “Transitional Justice” to help Taiwan’s youth and the public to further understand the island’s history and encourage reflections on stories that were generally neglected. The three episodes of the series focus on three objectives - truth, accountability, and vindication. From an objective perspective, the series conducts a dialectical inquiry into the current state of transitional justice in Taiwan. Based on historical data and qualitative stories, it explains the motivations behind various movements to convey the point that transitional justice is not carried out solely for the benefit of victims and their families but for the society at large to heal wounds.
“The February 28 Incident : The Comic Book” by Juan Mei-shu and Chang Rui-ting, 2005
Produced by Juan Mei-shu with artwork by Chang Rui-ting, “The February 28 Incident : The Comic Book” is the country’s first comic book about the February 28 Incident. Juan Mei-shu believes that the February 28 Incident is a tragedy from Taiwan’s history that we cannot afford to forget, and she hopes to introduce this period of history to more young people in the form of a black-and-white comic book. The book comprises two volumes. The first focuses on portraying the Incident, using simple lines and vivid depictions to convey a comprehensive understanding to those who have less affinity to reading. The second emphasizes the stories of victims, including Juan Chao-ji, Wang Tian-deng, and Tang De-chang, to highlight the violence employed by the Kuomintang government in its crackdown campaign.
“February 28 on Fire” by Du Fu-an, 2012
This comic book, “February 28 on Fire” takes the reader back to the era of the February 28 Incident and explains the background and development of the Incident. With delicate strokes, the book recreated Taiwan in the 1940s and depicted the societal circumstances in different parts of Taiwan and scenes of violent crackdown from the authoritarian Kuomintang government. The efforts and resolve among the Taiwanese people to resist an authoritarian regime are vivid in an immersive reading experience. Researchers believe that from the perspective of cultural history, the February 28 Incident can be seen as a conflict between to different societies and cultures, and this book specifically captures this historical meaning.
“My Youth, My Formosa” by Li-chin Lin, 2012
This graphic memoir “My Youth, My Formosa” comprises two volumes. The first volume is titled “A New Tongue,” using the imagery of a tongue being cut off and a new one sewn on to symbolize the neutering of a mother tongue and convey the anxiety of a language and culture being replaced. This was the author’s childhood experience under martial law. The second volume, “Waking from a Nightmare,” begins with the author’s time at Taipei First Girls High School, depicting the social shifts during the lifting of martial law and the bans on the press and political parties in the late 1980s to emphasize the gap between the official version of history and the truths of the February 28 Incident. In the book, the memories of growing up and the cultural conflicts and introspection along with a way to capture the process of an individual’s political awakening and the struggles of the Taiwanese identity.
“Seeds of Greatness and Beauty: Recreating the Power of the People in the February 28 Incident” by Tseng Feng, 2019
In 2018, the author and friends planned a month-long release of 228-themed illustrations on social media; the unexpected heated online debate that followed became the inspiration for compiling this book. The images and texts in the book bring the reader back to the time and place of the February 28 Incident to see how a group of people stood up against oppression and gave their lives to the island, becoming seeds of greatness and beauty that grew, blossomed, and bore more seeds that will take root. The purpose of the book is to convey the idea that history is not removed from our lives and that all people can become seeds of greatness and beauty that continue to spread and blossom generation after generation.
“Vampire Martina-Bloody Day 2.28” by Shi Ter Run,2019
The creator believes that resistance is the central element of hundreds of years of Taiwanese history, and the February 28 Incident is an iconic example. Therefore, he made a video game to entice more people to become familiar with history. The player’s character is a female vampire who immigrated to Taiwan from Europe during Dutch rule. The immigrant background highlights the inclusiveness of the Taiwanese psyche. Each boss in the game represents a stance held by a subset of the non-Taiwanese population during the year of the February 28 Incident. The game establishes the differences between the two sides of the conflict without identifying either one as good or evil, so that the player can gain a deeper understanding of the development of the Incident. A beta version of the game is released for download in 2019, with commercial release set for 2020.
When people begin to raise more issues with the February 28 Incident, democracy, and human rights, they are not only uncovering stories buried deep in our memories but also giving momentum to future interpretations of history. History is not about one person taking a hundred steps forward but about a hundred people walking one step forward together. With more people paying attention to historical truths, we can better heal the pain of the past. The dialogues that weave together both-sided perspectives of the past and the present, suspicion and agreement, will become a medium for historical reflections. Born in this new era, please tell us what you think about the February 28 Incident.
Please carefully read and think about these issues. You can tear down a ballot along the dashed line and put it into the transparent acrylic boxes by question number in the exhibition hall marked Agree or Disagree. Let us participate in the interpretation of history.
Question 1: Mistakes can be forgiven, the scars of history, however, cannot be forgotten. (Agree／Disagree)
Question 2: In the face of the February 28 Incident, We should look forward, not backward. (Agree／Disagree)
Question 3: Uncovering the truths of history and holding abusers accountable are the starting point for reconciliation. (Agree／Disagree)
The February 28 Incident is a major tragedy in Taiwan's modern history. How should we deal with the possibility of authoritarian resurgence and state-sanctioned violence? Write down your thoughts.