A statue of Chiang Kai-shek in Taipei was found beheaded on Saturday morning, smeared with red paint and defaced with messages of “serial killer” and “mastermind.”
The now headless statue of the former Republic of China president is located in the city’s Yangmingshan National Park. A pro-independence group called the Taiwan Nation Founding Engineering Team (台灣建國工程隊) has claimed responsibility for the attack, according to the Taipei Times. In a statement, the group accused Chiang of being behind the infamous February 28 Incident.
Also called the February 28 Massacre or the 2.28 Incident (二二八事件), the February 28 Incident 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 on the island which saw tens of thousands more killed, imprisoned or simply disappeared.
“Chiang Kai-shek was the mastermind of the 228 Massacre. It is a universally accepted fact that he was one of the ‘big four murderers’ in history,” the group said in a statement. “Allowing statues of murderer Chiang to be erected and worshiped in Taiwan is a disgrace.”
Earlier this year, on the 70th anniversary of the February 28 Incident, four university students in New Taipei City were detained by police for trying to take an electric saw to a statue of the former KMT leader. Meanwhile, the Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall in the center of Taipei was closed in order to prevent anything from happening to the main statue of Chiang inside.
In recent years, activist groups inside Taiwan have called on the government to stop honoring its brutal past and remove statues of Chiang from public spaces. In response to the decapitation, Pasuya Yao, a Democratic Progressive Party lawmaker has drafted a bill that calls for the removal of all of Taiwan’s statues of Chiang and the repurposing of the Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall.
Meanwhile, the activist group also said that it carried out the decapitation in retaliation for the beheading of a statue of Japanese civil engineer Yoichi Hatta in Tainan last week. Hatta was a technocrat in the Japanese government of Taiwan who is famous for designing the Chianan Irrigation and Wusanto Reservoir, turning a once arid wasteland near the coast into one of the most productive agricultural regions in Asia. A former Taipei City councilor admitted to carrying out the decapitation, handing himself in to police.
“Cut down one of ours and we will cut down countless of yours,” the pro-independence group warned.
Police are currently investigating the incident and searching for the head. Anyone that is found guilty of damaging public property in Taiwan could be sentenced to up to three years in prison.
[Images via CNA / jwb.com.cn]
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