The Taipei City Government yesterday officially renamed a lane in the city, where democracy advocate Deng Nan-jung (鄭南榕) committed suicide 23 years ago in defense of the freedom of expression, to “Freedom Lane (自由巷)” in his honor.
In a ceremony yesterday, Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-bin (郝龍斌) and Deng’s widow, Yeh Chu-lan (葉菊蘭), unveiled the “Freedom Lane” street sign as an alternative name to Alley 3, Lane 106, Minquan E Rd Sec 3 — where the ceremony was held.
On April 7, 1989, Deng, then-publisher of the Freedom Era Weekly magazine, committed suicide by self-immolation at the age of 43 as police tried to arrest him for printing a proposal for a constitution for the Republic of Taiwan in his magazine.
Deng had locked himself inside the office for 71 days before setting himself ablaze.
The office, which is located in an apartment on Freedom Lane, was later transformed into a museum in memory of Deng.
“Hopefully, everyone who visits the museum will leave with a seed of freedom and democracy and sow it elsewhere. Deng Nan-jung is only a name, but freedom — what he sacrificed his life for — is a value and a barometer of civilization that will be passed on for generations,” said Yeh, who went into politics after Deng’s death and served as vice premier under the former Democratic Progressive Party administration.
Hau, a member of the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT), said he had the utmost respect for Deng’s sacrifice in pursuit of “100 percent freedom of expression.”
Deng Liberty Foundation president Hsu Chang-hsien (許章賢) said the new street name had elevated Deng’s legacy to part of Taiwan’s history.
Hsu said he hoped the government would take it one step further by designating the museum a national cultural heritage site and April 7 as an annual Freedom of Speech Day.