Monday, February 21, 2011

Formosa Displayed, Formosa Betrayed:
Taiwan's 228 Museum Rewriting History?

Taipei 228 exhibits spark controversy
GLOSSING OVER: Critics said the government had demonstrated arrogance with its interpretation of history and had disrespected the incident’s victims and their families 

From The Taipei Times, Feb. 20, 2011
The Taipei 228 Memorial Museum is reopening its doors to the public this morning after a 10-month renovation, but its efforts to reveal the truth of the 228 Incident met with challenges as pro-independence activists and family members of the incident’s victims yesterday accused the museum of glorifying the acts of the then-government and distorting the truth with its selection of documents.  

Full story:

The Way It Was...
The Well of Souls: Taipei 2-28 Memorial Museum

By Stephen A. Nelson
(from The Brandon Sun, May 1, 2010)
A stone’s throw from the Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall, there is another museum; different in every way from the shrine dedicated to Chiang. This is the Taipei 2-28 Memorial Museum.

Everything about the 2-28 museum stands in stark contrast to the Chiang memorial. Instead of a great monument in the midst of a vast parade square, the 2-28 museum is a small building in quiet corner of a downtown park. If Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall is the Great Pyramid of Cheops, this is the Well
of Lost Souls.

The museum stands in the shadows of the other great edifices erected by the Japanese: The presidential palace, the parliament buildings, the National Taiwan University Hospital.

And like those public buildings, this place was designed in the Asian Glory style — simple lines incorporating Western elements — that was favoured by the Japanese when they ruled Taiwan in the first half of the 20th Century.

Originally, this building was home to the Taipei Broadcasting Bureau — the model radio network set up by the Japanese for their model colony. When the Japanese were forced to surrender Taiwan at the end of the Second World War, the KMT government took over the radio network and renamed it the Taiwan Broadcasting Company. 

The network played a central role in the events of the 2-28 Incident, as both sides commandeered the radio station to broadcast their messages. From here, the Taiwanese sent out their SOS to the world.

So what is the 2-28 Incident? And why should people want to remember it? My Taiwanese friends describe it as Taiwan’s own Tiananmen Square Massacre, the central event that is at the heart of the story told in Formosa Betrayed: a military crackdown — carried out by Chiang’s troops on February 28, 1947 — that marked the beginning of Taiwan’s martial-law era. Tens of thousands “disappeared” during what became known as The White Terror.

The history books always said that the crackdown was necessary to put down an insurrection, weed out communist agents and protect Taiwan. But if history is written by the winners, this 2-28 museum tells the story of the losers. Here, the faces of those lost souls look you in the eye and silently plead with you to make sure that their stories are not forgotten...


Further reading:

Return to Taiwan's Dark Days

Devils and Angels in Taiwan

Photos from the Old 228 Museum, before the renovations, revisions and rewrites.

Find links to my other Taiwan and travel stories:

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