HISTORICAL BACKGROUND OF TAIWAN WHITE TERROR 

Since 1624, Taiwan has being ruled by foreign regimes, such as the Dutch, Koxinga, Qing dynasty, Japan and the Republic of China. All of the regimes were trying to convert Taiwanese people into their nationals.  

In 1895, the Qing dynasty ceded Taiwan to Japan. Taiwan was under Japanese colonial rule for 50 years. In 1945, the Republic of China (ROC) “took back” Taiwan. At the beginning, people in Taiwan were happy for “being back to the mother China”.  However,  under Chiang Kai-Shek and KMT party’s control, the “happy ending” rapidly turned into a nightmare. The KMT considered the Taiwanese too “Japanicised“ and disrespected their lifestyle. They also looted their commodities and resources to support the war in mainland China. Taiwan’s economy went down the pan.

Pent-up frustrations came to a head on February 27, 1947 after police beat a women selling contraband cigarettes and accidentally killed a bystander. The next day, crowds gathered at a government building in Taipei demanding justice.

Chen Yi, the Governor-General of Taiwan, allowed officers to open fire on the crowd, killing several people and setting off uprisings around the island. The KMT declared martial law, called in troops from China indulged in three days of indiscriminate killing and looting. The soldiers killed many of Taiwan's elite, suspecting them of instigating the uprisings or siding with the Japanese. A period known as White Terror followed, as the KMT continued cracking down on those they suspected of opposition—either real or imagined—labeling them “communist spies”. Both those living in Taiwan and those who escaped from China were targeted, leading to more than 140,000 imprisonments and thousands of deaths. Most of the victims were prisoned in the jail on Green Island.

The death toll is estimated somewhere between 10,000 and 30,000, although the exact number is unknown. Many victims’ families kept silent for the next 50 years out of fear of reprisals. By the time the martial law had lifted in 1987 and democracy allowed for openness about the events, many who had lived through it had already passed away and their children knew little about what happened.