Calling Liu Po-yen (劉柏煙) a martyr for Taiwan, the committee organizing his funeral invited anyone who loves the country and agrees with Liu’s ideas to attend the service today in Nantou County.
Liu, an 80-year-old retired teacher and previously a long-time Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) member, set himself on fire on Nov. 11 to protest against human rights violations after President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) took office in May, including the government’s handling of anti-China protesters when Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Strait Chairman Chen Yunlin (陳雲林) visited Taipei in November.
During Chen’s visit, police officers confiscated Republic of China flags from people who stood along roads that Chen’s convoy was to pass and many demonstrators were beaten and seriously injured by the police.
Leaving an open letter condemning Ma for kowtowing to Chen and compromising Taiwan’s sovereignty, Liu set himself on fire at Liberty Square in Taipei, where members of the Wild Strawberry Student Movement were staging a sit-in protest against police brutality and demanding revision of the Assembly and Parade Act (集會遊行法).
Liu was immediately rushed to the nearby National Taiwan University Hospital and died a month later.
Liu Yueh-kui (劉月桂), Liu Po-yen’s daughter, said that before her father departed for Taipei, he told neighbors that he wanted to protect the Wild Strawberries and said his spirit would stay in the square to protect the students.
Huang Yi-wei (黃怡偉), a member of the Central Taiwan Society and the funeral organizing committee, said that Liu Po-yen had loved his country all his life and was proud of being Taiwanese.
Liu Po-yen’s decision to voice his concern by sacrificing himself reflected what he considered the “spirit of Taiwan,” Huang said.
While many of his friends and former students chose to keep a low profile for political reasons and had not come to pay their respects after Liu Po-yen’s death, Liu Yueh-kui said she had received encouragement from many who did not know her father, but came to pay tribute to him because they supported his ideas.
Of those who visited, Liu Yueh-kui said she remembered two of the mourners well. One of them was Liu Po-yen’s classmate Chiang Ting-chueh (江廷玨), who vowed to avenge his death, and the other was a man named Lin Ching-tien (林清田), who drove to Nantou County from Tainan County to present a memorial placard honoring Liu Po-yen as an “explorer in human rights and dignity” and a “defender of values in Taiwan.”
The service will begin at 9am today with Democratic Progressive Party Chairperson Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) attending as the chairperson of the funeral organizing committee and 40 Wild Strawberry representatives will also attend the service.
Liu Po-yen’s four children said they would donate to charity whatever was left of the NT$200,000 in donations they received from the public for their father’s medical treatment.