Thu, Feb 03, 2000 - Page 11 News List

Of mothers and daughters

February 28 will mark the anniversary of a murder that robbed a family of two of its beloved children. For the Lin family, the pain will always be with them

By Cheryl Lai  /  STAFF REPORTER

Yesterday would have been the 26th birthdays of two twin girls, if they were still alive. They were brutally murdered along with their grandmother on Feb. 28, 1980.

The case that has come to be known as the "Lin Family Murders?(林宅血案) will officially close on the 28th of this month with no assassin apprehended and the motives still officially unknown.

But the father of the children, DPP chairperson Lin I-hsiung (林義雄), like many other Taiwanese, is certain that the motives were political.

Lin I-hsiung's mother and twin daughters were killed when he was in jail 20 years ago, after having been arrested on Dec. 13, 1979 for his participation in a human rights rally in Kaohsiung three days earlier.

The march, in central Kaohsiung, was organized by staff members of Formosa magazine (美麗島), which had begun publication four months earlier. Pitched battles with police during the march left dozens of people injured.

The event came to be known as the Kaohsiung Incident (美麗島事件). Some 45 Formosa activists were arrested, and eight opposition leaders were eventually charged with sedition.

Shih Min-teh (施明德) received a life sentence, and the rest, including Lin, received jail sentences of 12-14 years.

It was only a day after Lin's wife and mother were allowed their first jail visit in the 87 days since his arrest when the murder took place.

On Feb. 28, 1980, a man dressed in black came to Lin's home to murder his children and mother.

The crime, which coincided with the anniversary of the 2-28 Incident (二二八事件), in which Taiwanese rebelling against KMT rule were massacred, rocked the nation.

Lin's wife, Fang Su-min (方素敏), was attending the the first public investigatory hearing of the Kaohsung Incident when the murders took place. Lin's 60-year-old mother, Lin Yu Ah-mai (林游阿妹), and the six-year-old twin girls were brutally murdered, according to police reports. Nine-year-old Huan-chun (奐均) survived with severe injuries.

"They were stabbed to death at midday in their own home, under the guard of the security agency. Such a thing would never have been happened in another country in the 20th centry"Ken Chiu (邱晃泉), a human rights lawyer, said.

The girls and their grandmother were not buried until Lin was released from jail in 1985. Fang and surviving daughter Lin Huan-chun moved to the US to start a new life.

"I don't know ever if he [the murderer] is alive now," says Fang Su-min. But I don't hate him, because love is our best weapon.

In heaven

"When I think of them, my for-ever seven-year-old little girls,"says Lin, who counts their ages Taiwanese style, "instead of recalling how they were taken away from us, I've often thought about where they are now - in heaven.

Lin, who seldom talks about his feelings in public, says he sometimes hears the twins calling for him and wife to join them in heaven.

"Is it heavenly down there, too?” they ask.

He says his reply is: "No, no, not exactly, but we are trying, trying to make it heavenly." Trying "to make the world more heavenly"is the reason Lin and his wife, despite all they have been through, have returned to politics.

For Fang Su-min, it's a simple question of preventing a "third" 2-28 incident from taking place. And she's also clear that her transition from housewife to legislator in 1983 had nothing to do with vengeance.

"I did not have vengeance in my mind ... All I wanted was to speak out and make things clear, hoping that the same tragedy won't repeat itself and the sacrifice of my loved ones won't be for nothing," Fang says.

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