Mon, Dec 15, 2003 - Page 2 News List

Persecuted journalist tells of conflict

By Debby Wu  /  STAFF REPORTER

Former Associated Press (AP) reporter Tina Chou (周清月), who did not attend the human rights conference held by the Taiwan Foundation for Democracy last week, described her conflict with the KMT government during the Martial Law period with a paper presented at the conference.

Chou ran into trouble when she used the word "autopsy" when reporting the case of Chen Wen-chen's (陳文成) death in 1981.

Chen was a political dissident who returned from the US in May 1981 to visit his family, but he was found dead on the National Taiwan University campus two months later.

There was wild speculation about Chen's death, and some suspected that his death was not natural and politically motivated.

Two US experts came to examine Chen's body and performed an autopsy, but the government denied this and after publication of Chou's story, the Government Information Office (GIO) revoked her press credentials on the basis that she wrote a "fabricated" report.

"It didn't make a difference at all that Prof. De Groot and Dr. Wecht announced their finding that Chen Wen-chen was a victim of homicide, suffering a severe beating prior to his death," Chou wrote.

Later the government and AP came to a compromise, and Chou was allowed to resume her career in 1982. She relocated to India in 1983.

"In 1986, after obtaining the GIO's consent, the AP transferred me back to Taiwan to head the Taipei bureau. On my first day at work I received word from the GIO, informing me that I would not be allowed to work as a journalist because I had never been reinstated," Chou said in the paper. "Thoroughly dismayed and frustrated, I left Taiwan for good."

Chou originally accepted the invitation to come back and tell her story in person at the conference, but pulled out in the end.

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