We first met you when you came to the Netherlands in 1988. It was only a couple of years after you had been released from prison. You had gone through indescribable pain and anguish after the loss of your mother and twin daughters, Ting-chun (亭均) and Liang-chun (亮均) on Feb. 28, 1980.
Thirty-four years later it is still unimaginable that a cruel and repressive Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) regime could allow that to happen, and still get away with it, even to this day.
However, your visit in 1988 expressed hope: You smiled and we enjoyed visiting various places in the Netherlands and Belgium. We looked at the future with optimism. Martial law had been lifted in 1987, and the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) had been established the year before. You would soon go back to Taiwan, later become the chairman of the DPP and lead it to victory in the election of 2000.
In the many years since then you showed your determination to do what is right for Taiwan and you have always been a man of principle. We greatly admire you for what you have done for Taiwan. It means a great deal to know that there are people with ideas and ideals for which they stand.
In the present debate about the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant we fully agree with you that it is time for the government and the people of Taiwan to say “no” to the construction and operation of a nuclear power plant so close to a major metropolitan area. To make this happen in a democratic fashion it is essential that the referendum law is changed and the 50 percent “birdcage” clause be dropped.
Your fast has galvanized tens of thousands of people into action and there is now an incredible amount of momentum in the campaign for closure of the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant and establishing a nuclear-free Taiwan. Through your actions, the majority of the public now see clearly that it is high time for Taiwan to change course and shift to alternative energy sources, as well as work on energy conservation.
What we really want to say is that you have achieved your objectives and that we don’t want to lose you. You have given us inspiration and hope and Taiwanese need you by their side in further battles for Taiwan and its future as a free and democratic nation. As your daughter Judy wrote so movingly in her letter on Easter Sunday 2014: “Please keep on striving for your cause and stay in our lives.”
All the efforts by you and many other courageous people in Taiwan, young and old, are now turning into a stream, and the stream is turning into a tide of freedom and democracy that can never be turned back.
Gerrit and Mei-chin van der Wees are editors of Taiwan Communique, a publication based in Washington.