This past weekend, Students for a Free Tibet Toronto was invited to speak at a “228” Taiwanese Commemoration event here in Toronto on behalf of the Tibetan community.
According to the Taiwanese Community of Toronto, the February 28th Incident is the defining moment and turning point in the history of modern Taiwan. Some 20,000 Taiwanese were killed in March 1947 by two armies sent to brutally repress a peaceful protest movement against the corruption and misery brought about in just 18 months of Chinese rule after the defeat of Japan. Chiang Kai-Shek’s troops especially sought out the intellectuals and social elite of Taiwan. A disproportionately high proportion of these were Presbyterians, who had become ministers, teachers and doctors in the 70 years since the Canadian Presbyterian mission began in north Taiwan. Canadian missionaries were witnesses to massacres going on at their doorsteps. After 40 years of silence during which the very words ‘228’ were literally banned in Taiwan, it was the Presbyterians who began pushing for righting the historical wrong, erected the first monument to the victims, and began a campaign for reconciliation between Taiwanese and Mainlanders. Today 228 is a national holiday – ‘228 Peace Day’ in Taiwan, equal in importance and power to November 11th in Canada”.
Before having had the opportunity to speak at this event, I was not aware of how similar the Tibetan and Taiwanese situations were. That day, I learned a lot about Taiwan, its people, and its struggle. While our situations both face several parallels in that both our struggles face a common oppressor, there is one thing that is certain: Until the Chinese Communist Empire falls, only then will Tibet, Taiwan and millions of other people around the world find peace and justice.
Urgen S. Gyalnang