1 . 228 Memorial Museum (二二八紀念館)
2/28/1947 marks the day where an anti-government uprising was violently suppressed by the KMT government. This resulted in the killing of thousands of civilians and it left a dark scar in Taiwanese society. 228 was not talked about and avoided in all situations. It wasn’t until 1990, when President Lee Tung Hui was the first to openly discuss the event and declared 2/28 a national holiday. The 228 memorial museum is located in the broadcasting station that was used to announce the surrender of Japan in WWII. The exhibits cover the post WWII takeover of Taiwan by the KMT and the events that lead up to the uprising. It also sheds light on the aftermath and all the victims that were affected.
2. Jing-Mei Human Rights and Memorial Park (景美人權文化園區)
During the White Terror Period (1949-1987), freedom of speech and public assembly were forbidden. Anybody suspected of being spies for Chinese communists or even opposing the government were taken into custody or sentenced to death. Jing-Mei Human Rights and Memorial Park was one of the major detention centers for these political dissidents. Former prisoners include Taiwan’s former Vice President, Annette Lu (呂秀蓮), and current Kaohsiung mayor, Chen Chu(陳菊) due to the Kaohsiung Incident. In 2007, the prison was turned into a museum which includes exhibits of the resistance during Martial Law and even the cell where Annette Lu and Chen Chu were kept in. The prison provides a firsthand glimpse of how the political prisoners were treated and Taiwan’s dark past.
3. Deng Liberty Foundation (鄭南榕基金會-紀念館)
Nylon Cheng is often referred to as the father of free speech in Taiwan. In 1984, Cheng founded the Freedom Era Weekly, which was a magazine that advocated for freedom of speech. Knowing that the KMT government would ban and suspend the magazine, Cheng registered 18 different magazine licenses. Despite the KMT’s efforts to stop the magazine, it continued to be printed over the years. In 1989, Cheng printed a possible proposal of a constitution for the Republic of Taiwan. He was charged by the government with insurrection and an arrest warrant was issued. However, Cheng refused to appear in court causing the police to attempt to break into his office to arrest him. Refusing to allow the police in, Cheng set his office on fire and died in the blaze. The Deng Liberty Foundation has preserved the remains of Cheng’s office to this day and has a small exhibit where visitors can learn more about the magazine, Cheng’s involvement in social movements, and his passion for Taiwan.
4. Freedom Square (自由廣場)
Freedom Square is a public plaza and has served as the place for important historical gatherings. It officially opened in 1975 and was originally named as Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Square after Chiang’s death in 1975. Despite the name, the plaza was an essential location where protests and demonstrations took place. One particular protest was the Wild Lily student movement in 1990. The movement was a six day sit-in which included the demand that there would be direct elections for Taiwan’s President and Vice President. Essentially, the movement was a pivotal moment that allowed for the first popular election in 1996. In 2007, President Chen Sui Bian renamed the square to Freedom Square. Even as of today, the square remains to be a popular place to host events and it represents democratic progress.
5. Taiwan’s Bookstore (台灣e店)
While this is bookstore was not the location of any significant or historical event, it has every single resource you could possibly imagine to learn about Taiwan’s history and culture. Opened by an old couple, the store has everything book related to Taiwan, music, movies, pictures, and souvenirs. It’s a hidden gem near National Taiwan University where you can spend hours!
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