IN THE 228 MASSACRES OF 1947, THE CHINESE NATIONALIST PARTY (KNOWN AS KMT) MILITARY TROOPS AND GOVERNMENT KILLED AT LEAST 30,000 TAIWANESE CIVILIANS, PARTICULARLY THE POLITICAL AND INTELLECTUAL ELITES. IT WAS THE WHITE TERROR.
The 228 Massacre has been a taboo subject for those who have had family or lived through it and the White Terror Era that followed. The first thing to know is that 228 is actually a misnomer because the events thought to have ignited the conflicts and that led to the massacring of tens of thousands actually happened the night before, on February 27th, 1947. Also, tensions had already been mounting for quite some time before then. Two years earlier in 1945, at the end of World War II, the Chinese Nationalists (the Kuomintang) had fled from China to Taiwan bringing with them the Republic of China framework. On the night of February 27th, Tobacco Monopoly Bureau agents tried to confiscate contraband cigarettes from a 40-year-old woman and brutally knocked her out. When an angry crowd gathered in protest, one of the agents fired a shot into the crowd killing a bystander. Within 24 hours, the incident had escalated into bloody violence and massacres. Under the authoritarian Chiang regime, what followed was 38 years of martial law and the White Terror era. Anyone could be disappeared, executed or worse for just saying or doing the wrong thing, or for what was seemingly wrong in the eyes of the authorities. The people of Taiwan were horrified and terrified. Generations dared not speak of 228.
228 was absent from high school textbooks until relatively recently. Denial, distrust, suppression, and the passage of time have made it hard for many to come to terms with 228.