Naming Taboo: Taiwan

By YingTing Tseng (YXT5059)

As I mention in the previous post, Naming Taboo: China, there is also one very similar incident happened in Taiwan; we call it, 2/28 Incident during the White Terror era (1949-1987).

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According to the BBC news, Anniversary of Deadly Taiwan Riot, written by Caroline Gluck, “the event was an aspiring that began on 28 February 1947, sparked by the beating of a female vendor by authorities for selling untaxed cigarettes.  Between 18,000 and 28,000 people have been killed in riots and a subsequent crackdown.  Ching Kai-shek 蔣介石, leader of the Kuomintang (KMT), or Chinese Nationalists – then based in mainland China – ordered his troops to Taiwan to quell the riots.

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However, ever since the 2/28 Incident, Taiwan was under martial law for many decades, and the massacre became a taboo.  And family members of the most victims are still looking for the answer that caused their relatives were killed or disappeared.  Even in recent years, the incident remains highly sensitive and politically divisive.  It touches on issues that are most hotly debated in Taiwan: national identity and tensions between native Taiwanese and mainland-born Chinese. (Anniversary of Deadly Taiwan Riot)

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Another news article, Taiwan Sorry for White Terror Era, also indicates the 2/28 Incident continuing sensitivities and political divisions over Taiwan’s recent history, when the Kuomintang ruled the island for decades with an iron grip, after fleeing there at the end of the Chinese civil war.  Even though the president Ma Ying-jeou 馬英九 has apologized for the killing during the White Terror era, the 2/28 Incident is still a scar.  Freddy Lin, a political activist and lead singer with a heavy metal band, mentions, “less than 5% of young people care about or know about the 2/28 Incident.  But since you don’t know anything, how can you stop another 2/28?”  The question mark here hits me.

It does not matter which nationality we are, we should be able to use our own thought to explain our own story/history.  The 2/28 Incident is an unforgettable taboo, but we remember it in order to avoid making the same mistake twice.

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