A tale of two Formosa Incidents

The 1979 rally is today seen as a crucial moment in Taiwan’s democratization, but back then it was portrayed as a senseless act of violence

Taipei Times
Date: Dec 06, 2015
By: Han Cheung  /  Staff reporter

Taiwan in Time: Dec. 7 to Dec. 13

The night of Dec. 12, 1979 was a restless one for the staff of Formosa Magazine (美麗島雜

Government troops and officers stand their ground during the Kaohsiung Incident.  Photo: Chu Pei-hsiung, Taipei Times

Government troops and officers stand their ground during the Kaohsiung Incident. Photo: Chu Pei-hsiung, Taipei Times

誌), as they gathered in a building in Taipei where several of them lived.

Almost all of them would go on to become major Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) political players in the future, but for now, they were wanted criminals.

Two days previously, on Human Rights Day, the magazine, published by dangwai (黨外, “outside the party”) politicians opposing the Chinese Nationalist Party’s (KMT) one-party rule, organized a pro-democracy rally in Kaohsiung. The KMT sent troops and police to surround and intimidate the protesters, and things soon turned violent. Official injury numbers initially showed 183 officers and no civilians, a figure later reduced to 50.

Accounts of what actually happened changed over time, with perceptions today being more sympathetic to the dangwai than what was indicated in the KMT-controlled media.     [FULL  STOREY]

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