National Taiwan University (NTU) Student Association will tomorrow formally submit a proposal — endorsed by more than 6,000 people — to the school to erect a monument to former student Chen Wen-chen (陳文成), who was allegedly assassinated by the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) regime on campus in 1981.
“The death of Chen is an important and symbolic milestone in Taiwan’s struggle for democracy,” student association president Cheng Ming-che (鄭明哲) said. “Erecting a monument is giving silenced history a chance to speak out, for us to learn from it and for us to write a page in the history of the freedom of speech on campus.”
Cheng said that more than 6,000 people — among them 2,400 NTU alumni, students and faculty members — had signed a petition to support the proposal scheduled to be submitted in an administrative meeting by student association representatives today.
Born in 1950, Chen graduated from NTU’s Department of Mathematics in 1972, left Taiwan in 1975 to continue his studies in the US and later became an assistant professor at Carnegie Mellon University in the US.
When he returned to Taiwan for a visit in the summer of 1981, he was twice interrogated by the Taiwan Garrison Command because he donated to the pro-democracy Formosa Magazine (美麗島雜誌).
He was taken away by Taiwan Garrison Command agents for the second time on the morning of July 2, 1981, and was found dead next to a library on the NTU campus.
While evidence showed that his body was moved there after death, the government said that he jumped from the rooftop of the library because he was afraid that he might be punished for donating to an anti-government magazine.
What really happened leading up to Chen’s death remains a mystery.
Dr Chen Wen-chen Memorial Foundation executive director Chang Lung-chiao (張龍僑) said he was happy to see students making the proposal, and called on the school administration to approve it.
“Once it’s approved, we would give our full support and assistance to the erection of the monument,” Chang said.
While also supportive of the proposal, Taiwan Association for Truth and Reconciliation executive secretary Yeh Hung-ling (葉虹靈) said that, besides Chen, hundreds of other NTU students or faculty members were involved in pro-democracy movements during the Martial Law era, and Yeh urged the school to pay equal attention to their history.