The seven were tried by a military court and Tu was sentenced to 10 years in prison, after which he was incarcerated at the military jail in Ankeng (安坑), Sindian (新店), in what was then Taipei County.
Looking back on the twists of fate in his life, Tu said his father was a well-known medical doctor who studied in Japan and was respected by local people, but “in those days with the KMT regime, no one could help me.”
“At that time, the KMT encouraged informers. If you confessed and they caught someone else as a result, you received a financial reward and a job promotion. It was more profitable than working at a regular job,” he said.
Tu looks back with sadness.
“It was a tragedy of history,” that he was caught up in three important episodes of KMT suppression.
“The painter who has seen the face of hell” said that initially, being locked up was agonizing, but later he became totally desensitized.
Tu Lu waited for his son to return and left an empty chair at the family meal table in the hope that his son would come back home safely.
During the first few years of his jail term, Tu Ping-lang said he never dared to think that one day he would walk out a free man again. Only later, when he saw a fellow prisoner released after serving a five-year term, did he think he had a chance of regaining his freedom.
Thanks to his painting skills, some military officials at the jail asked him to paint pictures to cheer everyone up. In return, he received better treatment than most.
After his release, Tu Ping-lang turned to Buddhist art, choosing mercy and forgiveness to deal with the suffering he had experienced.