lørdag 8. januar 2022

‘Something wrong, something good’: Taiwan grapples with remembering Chiang Kai-shek

Fred Chin fumbles with the combination lock on an old metal gate, the bright turquoise marred by rust spots and grime. On the other side is a long dark corridor and rows of cells. It was here that Chin was detained, tried and sentenced to 12 years in an offshore jail by the totalitarian regime that ruled Taiwan for almost 40 years.

“In one and a half years I left this room four times,” says the now 72-year-old, gesturing to the whitewashed walls. “Three times for court, and the last time when I was sent to Green Island. 365 days a year, 24 hours a day, the door was closed.”

Taiwan transitioned to a democracy in the late 1980s and is now one of Asia’s freest and most vibrant, but it is still reckoning with its history – still very much in living memory – and how to remember the man who oversaw it. Chin is a survivor of the White Terror period, the decades of martial law under Kuomintang (KMT) leader Chiang Kai-shek and his son. It began in 1947 with tens of thousands of civilians massacred for protesting against his rule, in what is now known as the 228 Incident. By the time it ended in 1987, it was estimated that as many as 140,000 people had been imprisoned and another 3,000-4,000 executed for actual or perceived opposition to the KMT.