1987 Lieyu massacre
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|1987 Lieyu massacre|
|Location||Donggang, Lieyu Township,Kinmen County, Fujian Province, Republic of China|
|Date||March 7–8, 1987|
|Target||Vietnamese boat people|
|Perpetrators||158 Heavy infantry Division,Kinmen Defense Command (金防部), ROC Army|
|Motive||3: Order of taking no surrender, 16 (?): Eliminating the witnesses |
The 1987 Lieyu massacre (Chinese: 小金門屠殺越南難民事件; pinyin: Xiǎo Jīnmén Túshā Nànmín Shìjiàn), also called the March 7 Incident, Donggang Incident orDonggang Massacre (Chinese: 三七事件, 東崗事件, 東崗慘案), occurred on March 7, 1987 on the Donggang Bay of the island of Lieyu (also known as Lesser Kinmen or Little Quemoy), Kinmen, Fujian, Republic of China. All of the 19 Vietnamese boat people landing on the coast of Lieyu island were killed by the Taiwanese Military in the massacre as per «Diary of the Chief of the General Staff (1981-1989)» by General Hau Pei-tsun, however the guarding sergeant at scene witnessed that more than 19 bodies were counted.
The incident originated from the previous case of a swimming Chinese couple seeking for asylum landed on the Dadan Island (大膽島), an islet near Kinmen and Lesser Kinmen islands, all counted as war zone under the Martial Law rulling at that time by the Republic of China in Taiwan off the Mainland China. The local deputy division commander major-general of the Army 158 Lieyu Division (烈嶼師) received them and escorted them to the superior Kinmen Defense command (金防部), but was immediately discharged from the command due to the violation of the direct order of "Taking no surrender in the war zone". Therefore, the deputy brigade commanderlieutenant-colonel on the neighboring Erdan Island (二膽島) farrer to the frontier summoned all the soldiers to reaffirm the severer order "Whoever lands on the island must be executed with no exception!" - soon afterwards, he was promoted as the 472 Nantang (南塘旅) brigade commander taking charge on all the units on the South Lieyu Defense Team, which indeed lead to the massacre later.
A week before the incident, A Chinese local fishing boat crossing the strait received intensive shooting and bombardment near the Dadan Island and caught fire at noon, February 28. The fishermen on board waved white cloth as the white flag signal and tried to communicate, but was yet sunk by the new Dadan commander with the tank gun shots . The only survivor swam to a rock nearby, but was still lost in waves eventually. The discipline of taking no surrender was therefrom performed to the extreme.
On March 7, 1987, A boat of Vietnamese refugees arrived in Kinmen and demanded for the political asylum, but was rejected by the Kinmen Defense Command; then the boat was pulled away to the high sea by a patrol boat of the Amphibious Reconnaissance Battalion (ARB-101, 海龍蛙兵) with advice not to return. However, for the unknown reason, the intelligence about this boat existence was never passed over to the front line of the coastal defense units on the Lieyu island.
Under the heavy fog in the later afternoon, this fishing boat unknown to the local units was sighted off the shore of Lieyu at 16:37. Both the 472 brigade commander and the local 1st Dashanding (大山頂) infantrybattalion commander arrived at scene to take charge. Warning and expelling shots were fired by the Taiwanese military. However, the floating boat managed to land on the beach south-west to Donggang ("East Cape", Chinese: 東崗; Pinyin: Dōnggāng) and was hit by crossfire, and 2 bazooka shots by the WPN company in reinforcement. Therefore, three males jumped off from the fishing boat and tried to communicate in Chinese but were shot dead. The local 3rd company commander at site received the order from the brigade commander to lead a team searching aboard and 2 hand grenades were thrown in, but then found that all the passengers were Vietnamese refugees with no weapon. The vessel had got stuck by the mechanical failure and further disorientated in the fog, till being pushed by the southern current and waves into the bay, which explained why the boat kept floating straight forward and could not take the evasion maneuver to make a turn or leave.
All of the survivors and bodies of the dead were taken out of the boat and placed on the beach with neither first aid nor any life support supply rendered, followed by intense telecommunication among the division HQ, brigade HQ and the commanders at scene, which quickly came to the conclusion in more execution to eliminate all the eyewitnesses. Some received multiple shots when one bullet did not kill. Among the bodies piled the seniors, women, children, a pregnant woman and a baby in a tiny sweater.
The next day, the Medical Platoon of the battalion HQ Company was ordered to bury all the boat people on site. The wounded were buried alive, and those who were still moving were dictated to be killed by militaryshovels . The entire boat was also instructed to be burned down and buried in sand to destroy all the evidences right away. The last victim, a little boy being hidden underneath a board cell was also executed by order with no exception. The guarding sergeant of the battalion HQ company counted the bodies as more than nineteen.
Since some medics defied the direct order of victim execution, the brigade commander dispatched the elite 1/3 of the brigade HQ Company to take over the battalion HQ and the battalion HQ company. Later that day, another fishing boat from China approached Donggang trying to check out what happened overnight. it was also shot to destroy, and sunk in the open sea with 4 confirmed dead - which some veterans later called the "March 8 Incident".
After the massacre, the 158 Division collaborated with its superior, Kinmen Defense Command, to conceal the news for two and half months, and the commander of the Kinmen Defense Command, Lieutenant-general Zhao Wan-fu (Chinese: 趙萬富; Pinyin: Zhào Wànfù), also pretended to be unaware of the event. While being questioned by the Chief of the General Staff, he replied "It was a couple of soldiers of theCommunist China being shot in the water". To cover up the truth, he ordered to dig out the corpses from the first scene, then moved them toward another address on a higher hidden slope to the right and built a wall above it to obstruct the incoming investigation.
The bodies were not buried deep on the beach. Soaked in seawater and under high temperature, the bodies soon began to decompose and were dug out by wild dogs from the landfill on the back side of the western hill. Accounts of ghost sightings prompted villagers to hold religious ceremonies, making it all the more difficult to block the news.
In early May 1987, media in Hong Kong first began to report the massacre. Informed by the overseas office, higher officials questioned the Kinmen Defense Command but got no response; instead, the command swapped this coast defense battalion from the front line with another reserve battalion in the training base in order to strengthen the personnel control and communication restriction to prevent further leaking news. Twice of extra bonus cash summing up to half a month of a captain's salary were also awarded to the company commanders abnormally on the eve of Dragon boat festival. Until the end of May, Recently dischargedconscription soldiers began to arrive in Taiwan Island from Kinmen in waves by the term schedule and revealed the occurrence to the newly founded opposition party, Democratic Progressive Party. The news of the massacre started to spread in Taiwan.
The first journalist reportage in Taiwan about this incident was the newspaper "Independence Evening News" (自立晚報) on June 5 on the Parliament Member Mme. Wu Shu-chen from the Democratic Progressive Party formally questioning the Ministry of National Defense (Republic of China) about the incident during the general assembly of Legislative Yuan that day, but repeatedly denied by the Military Spokesman, Major-general Zhang Hui Yuan, who accused Mme. Wu as "sabotaging the national reputation", and claimed it was actually "a Chinese fishing boat being sunk in the sea after ignoring the warnings". The case has been classified as the top secret in the military ever since, hence the government never revealed the truth regarding the identity and the number of the victims and what happened exactly. The official cover-up story applied to the public for another 13 years, until being uncovered by the publication of «Diary of the Chief of the General Staff (1981-1989)» by General Hau Pei-tsun in 2000. The Government of the Republic of China has made no comment thereafter.
After the scandal exposed, the president of Taiwan, ROC, Chiang Ching-kuo received the letter from the Amnesty International expressing the humanity concern, and assigned the Chief of the General Staff, GeneralHau Pei-tsun, to investigate this case. A special envoy of the Political Warfare Bureau was dispatched to Kinmen and found the case true. All the commanders and the corresponding political officers on the chain of command, including Kinmen Defense Command, 158 Lieyu Division, 472 Nantang Brigade, the 1st Dashanding Battalion, the HQ, WPN and 3rd Donggang companies were arrested, which lead to a large military position shuffle later.
In the martial court, the brigade commander in charge was sentenced to 1 year and 10 months for abetting murders; The battalion commander was sentenced to 1 year and 10 months for accomplice in serial murders; the WPN and 3rd company commanders were sentenced to 1 year and 8 months for serial murders - but all the above sentences are respited with a 3-year probation, therefore none of the 4 convicted field commanders was required to spend a day in jail.
The superior officers received no official punishment, and recovered their military career after President Chiang Ching-kuo suddenly died in January, 1988. The brigade commander took a senior lead colonel position in a military academy (陸軍通校); the division commander shifted to the Chief of Staff of the War College, National Defense University, before being promoted to the Deputy Commander of the Hua-Tung Defense Command (花東防衛司令部) in 1991 ; the Kinmen Defense Commander was promoted to the Deputy Chief Commander General of the Republic of China Army in 1989, and further the Deputy Chief of the General Staff of the Republic of China Armed Forces in 1991; then appointed with honours as a strategy advisor (戰略顧問) to the President of the Republic of China, and a reviewer member (中評委) of the Central Committee of the ruling party, Kuomintang (Chinese Nationalist Party).