Four university students in Taiwan were detained by police earlier today for trying to take an electric saw to a statue of Chiang Kai-shek in remembrance of what had happened on the island 70 years ago.
The February 28 Incident, also called the February 28 Massacre or the 2.28 Incident (二二八事件), refers to the violent suppression of an anti-government uprising in Taiwan by Chiang’s nationalist forces which began on February 28th, 1947. Anywhere from 10,000 to 50,000 people are estimated to have been killed in the bloody crackdown which marked the beginning of the infamous White Terror period which saw tens of thousands more killed, imprisoned or simply disappeared.
Believing that the current Taiwan government has not done enough to make amends with its brutal past, around 10 students arrived on the campus of the Fu Jen Catholic University in New Taipei City in the early hours of Tuesday morning to take down the statue of Taiwan’s former leader.
Police interrupted them before they could complete their work, sparking a scuffle that left one officer injured. Afterward, four of the students were detained for questions. The school has said that it does not plan to press charges.
According to Taiwan News, later in the day, the scarred statue was covered in papers referring to victims of the February 28 Incident and the White Terror.
Statues of Chiang were targeted by activists across Taiwan with police on high alert. In order to prevent anything from happening to the main statue of Chiang inside the Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall in the center of Taipei, the memorial was closed on Tuesday. Taiwan’s culture minister Cheng Li-chiun said that the closure comes “out of respect for 2.28 memorial activities and to prevent social confrontation.”
Last week, Taiwan’s Ministry of Culture announced that Chiang Kai-shek souvenirs would no longer would be sold at the site with Chiang figurines and stationery being removed from the gift shop. Cheng has argued that the entire memorial hall is need of revamping.
“In an effort to confront our history and wounds and respect the value of human rights, we hope to officially draft a bill to re-characterize National Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall,” he said, earlier this week.
[Images via CNA / NetEase]
Follow Shanghaiist on WeChat