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Friday, March 02, 2007

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Okinawan Victims of 2-28

Taiwan News tells the fascinating tale of the killings among the Okinawan community in Taiwan during 2-28.

At that time, traders and fisherman came from Okinawa to Taiwan unaware of the chaos that the February 28th uprising against the then KMT governor general Chen Yi had caused. As a result, many became embroiled in the 228 massacre and lost their lives when KMT troops, dispatched by Republic of China president and autocrat Chiang Kai-shek to suppress the "rebellion," arrived.

At that time, approximately 300 Okinawans lived in a fishing community on Keelung's Sheliao Island (now known as Peace Island).

After the end of the Second World War and the substantive take over of Taiwan after five decades of Japanese rule by the KMT regime under the cover of occupation, this community of Okinawans, as with many Japanese professionals or essential workers, had been "retained for utilization" in Taiwan after the repatriation of most Japanese.

No distinction made

When KMT troops, from of the First Battalion of the 21st Military Police Regiment dispatched by Chiang from China arrived in Keelung harbor, they did not distinguish between persons from Okinawa with Japanese citizenship or Taiwanese and thus Sheliao Island became one of the first settlements to witness the following islandwide massacre and "purification" and at least 30 Okinawans became victims along with thousands of Taiwanese.

After the 228 massacre and the "purification" of dissidents that followed, the flight of the KMT regime to Taiwan after losing the Chinese Civil War to the Chinese Communist Party's People's Liberation Army led to a deeper and more systematic "White Terror" marked by the (probably illegal) declaration of martial law on May 19, 1949 that lasted for over 38 years until July 15, 1987.

During these four decades of what one international human rights group called a "tortured silence," the story of the 228 victims from Okinawa and their right to know the fate of their loved ones and the truth behind their disappearance was buried along with any hopes for transitional justice.



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