Remembering 228 Tragic Stories and the March Massacres

Felicia Lin
3 min readFeb 29, 2024

On this day, we remember February 28, 1947, a sad tragic date in Taiwan’s history that marks the murder of tens of thousands. Some estimates put the number as high as 28 to 30 thousand. Two years earlier, in 1945, the Chinese Nationalists or Kuomintang had fled from China to Taiwan. After Japan’s occupation of Taiwan had ended and since the arrival of the KMT, discontent had been brewing for some time.

So on the night of February 27, 1947 when Tobacco Monopoly Bureau agents tried to confiscate contraband cigarettes from a 40-year-old woman and brutally knocked her out, an angry crowd gathered in protest. Then one of the agents fired a shot into the crowd killing a bystander. What followed was a bloody crackdown by authorities, widespread violence and what some have called the March Massacres since most of the killings actually happened in March.

In this episode, is a personal account that James Shau, chairperson of the Taiwanese American Association of New York shared at last year’s 228 commemoration at the New York Taiwan Center.

Mr. Shau’s account is a reminder of how widespread the violence was at that time. And while we now know that intellectuals and community leaders were among those who were specifically targeted, there were many unknown, unnamed who also senselessly lost their lives.

228 led to 38 years of martial law and an even longer period of White Terror in Taiwan. Let us also remember those who suffered during those subsequent periods of time.

In more recent news related to 228, Taiwan’s Transitional Justice Commission has identified 42 historical sites where injustice related to 228 have happened.

On Monday, February 26 just a few days ago, the Executive Yuan compound was designated as a historical site of injustice. 77 years ago, it was the Taiwan Provincial Administrative Executive Office when the Chinese Nationalist Kuomintang KMT military police fired indiscriminately on protestors on February 28, 1947.

Other historical sites of injustice that have been unveiled include the Jing-mei White Terror Memorial Park which used to be the Taiwan Garrison Command’s detention center and military court, the Ankang Reception House, and the Tang Te-chang Memorial Park in Tainan.

Special thanks to Meiling Lin for her translation assistance for this episode.

Related Links:

The 228 Massacre: https://228massacre.org/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/February_28_incident

https://www.taiwandc.org/228-intr.htm

Taipei 228 Peace Park: https://eng.taiwan.net.tw/m1.aspx?sNo=0002090&id=R3

The First 228 Peace Memorial Monument: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_First_228_Peace_Memorial_Monument

Chinese Nationalists aka Kuomintang: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kuomintang

Republic of China (1912–1949): https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Republic_of_China_(1912%E2%80%931949)

History of Taiwan and Republic of China (1945–present): https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_Taiwan_(1945%E2%80%93present)

Martial Law in Taiwan: https://oftaiwan.org/history/white-terror/martial-law/

Transitional Justice Commission: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Transitional_Justice_Commission#:~:text=The%20Transitional%20Justice%20Commission%20

Jing-Mei White Terror Memorial Park: http://museu.ms/museum/details/18264/national-human-rights-museum

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jing-Mei_White_Terror_Memorial_Park

Chiang Kai-shek: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chiang_Kai-shek

Gone but Not Forgotten: 7 Historic Sites to Learn More About the White Terror: https://taiwan-scene.com/7-historic-sites-to-learn-more-about-the-white-terror/

Martial Law in Taiwan (Chinese language article): https://www.bbc.com/zhongwen/trad/chinese-news-40593296

Plaques unveiled for four sites of injustice ahead of 228 Incident’s anniversary|Taiwan News: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Iouxs6oG0Bw&t=142s

Executive Yuan officially named ‘site of injustice’: https://www.taipeitimes.com/News/front/archives/2024/02/27/2003814133#:~:text=Premier%20Chen%20Chien%2Djen%20(%E9%99%B3%E5%BB%BA%E4%BB%81,the%20228%20Incident%20of%201947

Ankang Reception House

A Site of Injustice: https://www.taiwan-panorama.com/Articles/Details?Guid=e3e0ac8b-36f7-4049-96e2-2bb1e750583c&langId=3&CatId=12

The 228 Massacre: Taboos, Scars, Stigmas and an Essential Lesson in Taiwan History (Episode 171):

Helping 228 Survivors Deal with Trauma: Dr. Michi Fu and Dr. Tsuann Kuo Work with the Transitional Justice Commission (Episode 172):

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Felicia Lin

Felicia Lin is the producer and host of Talking Taiwan, the longest running Taiwan-related podcast, and Golden Crane Podcast Award Winner.