White Terror (Taiwan)
In Taiwan, the White Terror (Chinese: 白色恐怖; pinyin: Báisè Kǒngbù) was the suppression of political dissidents following the February 28 incident by the Government of the Republic of China ruled by the Kuomintang (Chinese Nationalist Party).
|Literal meaning||White Terror|
The period of martial law lasted 38 years and 57 days from 19 May 1949 to 15 July 1987. Taiwan's period of martial law had been the longest period of martial law in the world at the time it was lifted, but has since been surpassed by the Syrian 48-year period of martial law, which lasted from 1963 to 2011.
The term "White Terror" in its broadest meaning refers to the entire period from 1947 to 1987. Most prosecutions took place between 1950 and 1953. Most of those prosecuted were labeled by the Kuomintang (KMT) as "bandit spies" (匪諜), meaning communist spies, and punished as such.
The KMT mostly imprisoned Taiwan's intellectual and social elite out of fear that they might resist KMT rule or sympathize with communism. For example, the Formosan League for Reemancipation was a Taiwanese independence group established in 1947 which the KMT believed to be under communist control, leading to its members being arrested in 1950. The World United Formosans for Independence was persecuted for similar reasons. However, other prosecutions did not have such clear reasoning; in 1968 Bo Yang was imprisoned for his choice of words in translating a Popeye comic strip. A large number of the White Terror's other victims were mainland Chinese, many of whom owed their evacuation to Taiwan to the KMT. Many of the mainland Chinese who survived the White Terror in Taiwan, like Bo Yang and Li Ao, moved on to promote Taiwan's democratization and the reform of the Kuomintang. In 1969, future president Lee Teng-hui was detained and interrogated for more than a week by the Taiwan Garrison Command, which demanded to know about his "communist activities" and told him "killing you at this moment is as easy as crushing an ant to death." Three years later he was invited to join the cabinet of Chiang Ching-kuo.
Fear of discussing the White Terror and the February 28 Incident gradually decreased with the lifting of martial law after the 1987 Lieyu Massacre, culminating in the establishment of an official public memorial and an apology by President Lee Teng-hui in 1995. In 2008, President Ma Ying-jeou addressed a memorial service for the White Terror in Taipei. Ma apologized to the victims and their family members on behalf of the government and expressed the hope that Taiwan would never again experience a similar tragedy.
This section needs additional citations for verification. (July 2021)
Around 140,000 Taiwanese were imprisoned during this period, of whom from about 3,000 to 4,000 were executed for their real or perceived opposition to the Kuomintang (KMT, Chinese Nationalist Party) government led by Chiang Kai-shek. Most of the victims of the White Terror were men, however, a number of women were tortured and/or executed.
- 1947: The 228 Massacre, where thousands of anti-government protestors were killed. The incident marked the beginning of the White Terror.
- 1949: The July 13 Penghu incident, where secondary school students, refugees from Shandong province, were conscripted by force as child soldiers on July 13.
- 1952: Chungli Yimin Middle School incident, where many teachers were arrested and executed.
- 1952: Luku incident (鹿窟事件), during which 35 people were executed and 98 imprisoned
- 1953: Aborigine leaders Tang Shou-jen and Uyongʉ Yata'uyungana are arrested and executed in 1954.
- 1954: Soviet civilian tanker Tuapse was privateered in high sea with 49 crew being mistreated and detained up to 34 years and 3 death.
- 1960: Arrest of Lei Chen, publisher of the Free China Journal
- 1961: Su Tung-chi case
- 1968: Arrests of writers Chen Yin-chen and Chiu Yen-liang, who supported independence
- 1972: Trials of Huang Chi-nan and Chung Chien-hsun
- 1979: Eight pro-democracy activists are arrested following a protest on December 10, later known as the Kaohsiung Incident.
- 1980: The mother and twin daughters of democracy activist Lin Yi-hsiung (arrested following the Kaohsiung incident) are stabbed to death on Feb. 28.
- 1981: Carnegie Mellon statistics professor Chen Wen-chen is found dead on July 3 after a long interrogation session with government officials during a visit to Taiwan
- 1984: Journalist Henry Liu is assassinated at his home in Daly City, California, for writings disparaging President of the Republic of China, Chiang Ching-kuo. The assassination is thought to have been orchestrated by Pai Wan-hsiang.
- 1987: 1987 Lieyu Massacre, 19 landed refugees were killed by the military and evidence was destroyed. The ROC government denied that the incident occurred after it was reported by journalists and during questioning by the parliament.
This section needs additional citations for verification. (July 2021)
Since the lifting of martial law in 1987, the government has set up the 228 Incident Memorial Foundation, a civilian reparations fund supported by public donations for the victims and their families. Many descendants of victims remain unaware that their family members were victims, while many of the families of victims from Mainland China did not know the details of their relatives' mistreatment during the riot.
- The 1958 film E.A. — Extraordinary Accident (Russian: Ч. П. — Чрезвычайное происшествие) by Viktor Ivchenko in 1958 tells the first year story of the Tanker Tuapse crew with the leading distribution of 47.5 million USSR viewers in 1959.
- Hou Hsiao-hsien's A City of Sadness, the first movie dealing with the February 28 incident, won the Golden Lion at the 1989 Venice Film Festival.
- The 1989 dark humor Banana Paradise is the second film of the Taiwan Modern Trilogy by Wang Toon, who applied a real cross-strait case reported in 1988 to develop the script with the preposterous irony of a Chinese Mainlander refugee couple's struggle living with fake identifications since the Chinese Civil War throughout the White Terror era till the reunion of divided families in 1988.
- The 1991 teen-crime drama A Brighter Summer Day by Edward Yang adopts a real street murder case in Taipei in 1961, where a group of high-school students' lives were twisted by the gestapo-style Taiwan Garrison Command agents and the mafia activities in the military dependents' village. The film won the Best Film Award in the 36th Asia-Pacific Film Festival, Gold Train Award (Best Film) in the Faro Island Film Festival, Special Jury Prize in the Tokyo International Film Festival, Best Director Awards in the 13th Festival des 3 Continents and in the 5th Singapore International Film Festival.
- The 1995 romance Good Men, Good Women by Hou Hsiao-hsien based on the biography book named after the Japanese song <幌馬車の唄> in real life of Chiang Bi-Yu as a political prisoner (Daughtor of Chiang Wei-shui, starring Annie Yi in 3 interlude roles) to research the complexity of Taiwanese history and national identity.
- The 1995 blue drama Heartbreak Island, a winner of NETPAC Award in the 1996 International Film Festival Rotterdam describes the mind struggle flashbacks of a student activist being finally released after 10 years in prison for participating the 1979 Kaohsiung Incident, but only finding that her old comrades have changed to give up ideals and keep chilly distance.
- The 1995 film Super Citizen Ko by Wan Jen surrounding a political prisoner during martial law who looks for the grave of a friend who was executed.
- The 2000 criminal mystery Forgotten or Forgiven by Zhong-zheng Wang and Wei-jian Hong, portraits a grim police detective growing up from the harsh environment of a White Terror victim family follows a lead to discover the true identity of the low-profiled target, his partner's father, as actually a secret agency deserter with the repentance through life against the Agency who involved in his case, then solved the conundrum in 2 generations after the final showdown of the deserter confronting his old commander.
- The 2009 biography Prince of Tears by Yonfan, nominated for the Golden Lion at the 66th Venice International Film Festival and selected as the Hong Kong entry for the 82nd Academy Awards for Best Foreign Language Film, is a real-life story of Taiwanese actress Chiao Chiao (aka. Lisa Chiao), whose father was falsely accused to be executed during the White Terror in 1950s, then the mother was also arrested, and 2 girls become homeless as their house being confiscated.
- The 2009 political thriller Formosa Betrayed by Adam Kane portraits a FBI investigator tracing multi-murder cases to find the truth, inspired by the real cases including the assassination of journalist Henry Liu in California in 1984, the unsolved death of Chen Wen-chen of Carnegie Mellon University in 1981, and the serial murders of Lin Yi-hsiung family in 1980.
- The 2019 horror film Detention, an adaptation of the eponymous video game based on true events specifically the 1947 Keelung Senior High School Incident where dozens of students, teachers and journalists were either executed or imprisoned for political reasons during White Terror.
- The 2019 VR-film Bodyless by Prof. Hsin-Chien Huang of NTNU, Special Mention of 2019 Kaohsiung Film Festival, and Honorary Mention in the Computer Animation category of Prix Ars Electronica 2020, describes how the soul of a dead political prisoner left his jailed body in the suppressed environment of ROC military ruling with martial law, then finally freely found his way home.
- Vern Sneider's novel A Pail of Oysters in 1953 was based on the officer's personal field survey revealing people's life in Taiwanese society under suppression in 1950s, was banned by Chinese Nationalists' authorities until being reissued in 2016 – 35 years after his death.
- Tehpen Tasi's autobiography Elegy of Sweet Potatoes (Japanese: 臺湾のいもっ子) in 1994, based on his testimony with the other political prisoners together for 13 months in 1954–1955.
- Julie Wu's The Third Son in 2013 describes the event and its aftermath from the viewpoint of a Taiwanese boy.
- Jennifer J. Chow's The 228 Legacy in 2013 focuses on how there was such an impact that it permeated throughout multiple generations within the same family.
- Shawna Yang Ryan's Green Island in 2016 tells the story of the incident as it affects three generations of a Taiwanese family.
- Ken Liu's The Paper Menagerie & Other Short Stories in 2016 includes a short story titled The Literomancer which references the 228 incident from the perspective of a young American girl who had recently moved to Taiwan, and asks both her father, who works on an American military base, and a neighbor, and old man named Mr. Kan about the incident. It develops on these two different perspectives throughout the story, becoming progressively darker.
- Principle Jian Tian-lu's Hushen, a 2019 literature award winner expresses the humanity concern in contrast with the brutality on the first scene of 1987 Lieyu massacre.
- In 2014, Sharp Point Press and Future-Digi publicized the Rainy Port Keelung with 3 light novels telling a love story in the background of Keelung Massacre during the Feb. 28 incident.
- In 2017, Taiwanese game developer Red Candle Games launched Detention, a survival horror video game created and developed for Steam. It is a 2D atmospheric horror side-scroller set in 1960s Taiwan under martial law following the 228 incident. The critically acclaimed game also incorporates religious elements based on Taiwanese culture and mythology. Rely On Horror gave the game a 9 out of 10, saying that "every facet of Detention moves in one harmonious lockstep towards an unavoidable tragedy, drowning out the world around you."
- In 2017, Erotes Studio produced Blue Blood Lagoon with the story of high-school students running for life to escape from the bloodshed of military conscription arrest, prosecution and execution during the July 13 Penghu incident.
- In 2019, Team Padendon publicized a ghost RPG PAGUI based on a true family story of the Kaohsiung Massacre victims in Feb. 28 Incident: An orphan raised by a temple uncovered his identity and looked for his dispersed family for over 60 years with no result until he died; an old lady in her 90s heard the news arrives but only find her son in the coffin.
- In 2020, MatchB Studio produced an adventure puzzle Halflight with two brothers playing near a base witnessed an execution site upon the Feb. 28 incident, and one fell missing in chaos, followed by the family being persecuted apart, so the little boy went back trying to find the younger brother, but only stepped into the worse ending in 50 years.
- Anti-communist mass killings
- History of Taiwan
- History of the Kuomintang
- History of the Republic of China
- Political status of Taiwan
- Politics of the Republic of China
- Period of mobilization for the suppression of Communist rebellion
- Shanghai massacre
- Transitional Justice Commission
- Campaign to Suppress Counterrevolutionaries
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