Sun, Jul 15, 2007 - Page 3 News List

20TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE END OF MARTIAL LAW:A brief history of the martial law era



The Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) regime, led by Chiang Kai-shek (蔣介石), declared martial law, which took effect on May 20.

The Penghu Incident. Seven of the 8,000 high school students, faculty and staff in exile in Penghu from Shandong Province, China, were executed in Keelung after refusing forced military service; more than 100 remaining students were imprisoned and later forced into military service.


The Statute Governing Prosecution of Communist Spies During the Period of National Mobilization for Suppression of the Communist Rebellion took effect on June 13.

Chen Yi (陳儀), the former governor of Taiwan who brutally surpressed the uprising following the 228 Incident in 1947, was executed on June 18 in Taipei, having been accused of having secret contacts with Communists.


Free China, a magazine criticizing the KMT government, was banned and its founder, democracy activist Lei Chen (雷震), arrested on Sept. 4 and sentenced to 10 years in prison.


Taiwanese independence activist Chen Chi-hsiung (陳智雄) became the first person ever to be executed for advocating Taiwanese independence. Chen, who spoke Hoklo, Mandarin, Japanese, English, Malaysian and Dutch fluently, served as a Japanese diplomat in Dutch-ruled Indonesia during the Japanese colonial rule. Inspired by the Indonesian independence movement, Chen became an advocate for Taiwanese independence, and served as the circuit ambassador to Southeast Asia for the Provisional Government of the Republic of Taiwan founded by another independence activist, Liao Wen-yi (廖文毅), in Japan after World War II. Chen was later kidnapped by the KMT regime's secret service agents and shipped back to Taiwan via diplomatic mail, which is exempt from inspection by customs.

Martial Law in Kinmen and Matsu

1. Curfew: A Curfew was in effect at nightfall. Those who intended to go out after the curfew were required to apply for a permit and memorize watchwords.

2. Blackout: When night falls, all doors and windows had to remain closed and the lights had to be covered. Violators receive either a warning or pay a fine.

3. Military court: Civilians who broke the law were tried in military courts and had no right to hire attorneys.

4. "Border" control: Residents of Kinmen and Matsu were required to apply for a border control pass even to travel to Taiwan proper or Penghu.

5. Telecommunications control: Residents of Kinmen and Matsu were only permitted to communicate with the outside via letters and telegraph. Radios were banned in Kinmen and Matsu while televisions were available only after filing applications.

6. Currency control: Kinmen and Matsu each had their own currencies, and a currency exchange was required before traveling to Taiwan proper.

7. Electronic appliances control: High energy-consuming appliances such as refrigerators, washing machines, electronic rice cookers and air conditioners were banned in Kinmen and Matsu.

8. Other control measures: Buildings could not be higher than two stories; the import of "floating accessories" such a tires, life buoys or basketballs were strictly controlled; cameras could not be used freely; the import of fireworks and betel nuts was banned; pigeon keeping and kite flying were banned.

Note: Given Kinmen and Matsu's use as Taiwan's frontline military redoubts, Martial Law did not formally end on the islands until Nov. 7, 1992.

SOURCE: Wang Chao-sheng



National Taiwan University political science professor Peng Ming-min (彭明敏), along with two students, Wei Ting-chao (魏廷朝) and Hsieh Tsung-min (謝聰敏), were arrested for their Declaration of Formosan Self-salvation. The declaration called for democracy and independence for Taiwan, while pointing out that it was impossible for the KMT regime to retake China by force.


Author and human rights activist Bo Yang (柏楊) was arrested on Sept. 1 and sentenced to 12 years in prison, accused of "being a communist spy" for translating a Popeye cartoon. In the cartoon that Bo translated, Popeye and his son decided to run for the president of an island. Popeye opened his campaign speech with "fellows," which Bo translated to chuanguo junmin tongpao men (全國軍民同胞們) or "dear fellow soldiers and civilians," a phrase that dictator Chiang Kai-shek often used to open his speeches. The then KMT government believed the translation to be a satirical one, which became the evidence for the "crime" that Bo committed.


The Taiwan Presbyterian Church released a Proclamation on State Affairs on Dec. 17, calling for self-determination and democracy for the Taiwanese.


Chiang Kai-shek died on April 5. Then vice president Yen Chia-kan (嚴家淦) assumed the presidency.


Chiang Kai-shek's son Chiang Ching-kuo (蔣經國) became the president on March 21.


The Kaohsiung Incident, in which the government cracked down on an anti-government demonstration on Dec. 10, 1979, organized by an opposition magazine called Formosa. Eight leaders in the demonstration, including Annette Lu (呂秀蓮), Chen Chu (陳菊), Huang Hsin-chieh (黃信介), Lin I-hsiung (林義雄), Shih Ming-teh (施明德) and theologian Lin Hung-hsuan (林弘宣) were arrested.

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