228 report 'truth that can heal': President Chen
The China Post staff Monday, February 20, 2006, 12:00 am TWN
President Chen Shui-bian wants Chiang Kai-shek remembered as the chief culprit of the February 28 Incident of 1947, in which thousands of innocent people were massacred in Taiwan.
Speaking at a meeting to mark the publication of a special report on the incident, President Chen said yesterday forgiveness is important, but that does not mean the people should forget who was actually responsible for the massacre.
The report, published by the February 28 Memorial Foundation, concludes Chiang Kai-shek as the "chief culprit" for the massacre that followed the riots which occurred spontaneously in Taiwan.
Three other culprits are named.
They were Chen Yi, Keh Yuan-fen and Peng Meng-chi.
General Chen Yi was the administrator-general of the province of Taiwan from 1945 to 1947. He was also the commander of the Taiwan garrison.
Lieutenant General Keh Yuan-fen was Chen's chief of staff, while Peng Meng-chief, a major general, was the commander of the Kaohsiung Fortress Command.
"One has to learn from history," President Chen said. "Learning the truth alone can help heal the wounds of our society," he added.
Chen said the special report provided that historical truth.
"All of us are learning to forgive, because forgiveness alone can bring about harmony and peace," Chen continued. "But," he pointed out, "that does not mean we should forget who had to take responsibility for the February 28 Incident."
In particular, the special report, written by seven historians commissioned by the February 28 Memorial Foundation, Chiang Kai-shek in Nanjing knew full well what was going on in Taipei and decided to sent an infantry division to Taiwan for the suppression despite repeated calls against the dispatch from China.
On March 5, five days after the riots, Chiang ordered the 21st division to depart for Taiwan at the request of General Chen Yi.
The division, under command of Lieutenant General Liu Yu-ching, reached Taiwan on March 8 and immediately enforced martial law.
At least 30,000 people were massacred by the reinforcement division, according to the special report.
"Chiang Kai-shek was chairman of the National Government (of the Republic of China)," the special report says, adding: "He alone had the authority to dispatch a division. Without his support, General Chen Yi did not dare ignore the will of the people.
"Without his (Chiang's) tacit agreement, the troops did not dare arrest and execute people without trial.
"And after the incident, no military and government officials were punished. Some were promoted instead.
"Therefore, Chiang Kai-shek is the chief culprit (of the massacre), most gravely responsible."
Ma Ying-jeou, chairman of the Kuomintang, agreed the truth about the incident has to be told but suggested that enough evidence needed to be provided to attribute the responsibility for the massacre to anyone.
"I am glad," said Ma, who just returned from a tour of Europe, "someone has undertaken research to find out the truth (about the February 28 Incident)." "But," he went on, "the suggestion (of guilt) must be fair, and sufficient evidence is needed to convince the people."
Wang Jin-pyng, president of the Legislative Yuan and a former Kuomintang vice chairman, declined to comment. "We'll have to study it again," he said. Nor would John Chiang, former foreign minister and a Kuomintang lawmaker who is a grandson of Chiang Kai-shek.
"They say Chiang Kai-shek is the chief culprit," said the legislator who wishes to run for mayor of Taipei. "However," he added, "before reading the report in full, I cannot say how they have arrived at that conclusion."
He also questioned the timing of the publication of the special report. "They may have some ulterior motive (in publishing the report)," he said.