228 Memorial Day
228 Memorial Day, also known as Peace Memorial Day, is a remembrance day in Taiwan that marks the date of the uprising in 1947 that was violently suppressed by the Republic of China. This event, known as the 228 Massacre or incident, marks the beginning of the “White Terror,” a period of time in which tens of thousands of Taiwanese went missing, were killed, or were imprisoned.
This incident is considered to be the most important event in Taiwan’s modern history and provided the needed momentum for the Taiwan independence movement. This day is a commemorative public holiday that remembers the victims of the 228 massacre and is observed on the 28th of February.
The History Of 228 Memorial Day
In 1945, when the Japanese were defeated in WWII, the Allied Forces gave temporary control of Taiwan to the Republic of China so that they could administer the surrendering of Japanese troops and handle the local administration of the country.
This would result in a situation where the people of Taiwan began to feel resentful of the administration of the country by China because they felt it was rife with corruption. On February 27, 1947, this resentment would come to a head when a dispute between a Chinese official and a cigarette vendor lead to open rebellions and civil unrest.
The Chinese responded to the civil unrest harshly by using extreme military force and by putting the country under martial law. It’s estimated that between 10,000 and 30,000 Taiwanese were killed during the February 28th massacre-an event that’s now known as the 228 Massacre.
This date was only the beginning, however. It would begin the start of the White Terror period in Taiwan in which thousands of Taiwanese were imprisoned, killed, or simply disappeared. For many years, the 228 massacre was an event that wasn’t addressed publicly, but that changed in 1995 when a Taiwanese head of state made February 28th an official holiday.
Observing 228 Memorial Day
This commemorative holiday is celebrated with memorials and the laying of wreaths on monuments all across Taiwan. Every February 28th, the president of Taiwan will also ring a commemorative bell in memory of all of the victims of the February 28 Massacre.