Yeh Chu-lan (葉菊蘭), the widow of late democracy movement pioneer Deng Nan-jung (鄭南榕), yesterday paid a visit to the Legislative Yuan to express her appreciation to the hundreds of student protesters for the strong determination they have shown in their pursuit of the greater good of the country.
“I am deeply saddened and ashamed to see how much these young students have suffered [for the nation]. I believe many people feel the same way,” Yeh said during the visit.
Yeh apologized to the students for their having to sleep on the floor of the legislature for days.
“I am truly sorry,” Yeh said.
The students’ occupation of the legislature in reaction to the government’s handling of the cross-strait service trade pact entered its 21st day yesterday.
Yeh made the visit on the eve of the 25th anniversary of the self-immolation of her husband, who set himself on fire on April 7, 1989, as heavily armed police attempted to break into his office following his 71 days of self-imposed isolation.
Deng was charged with sedition for the anti-government views expressed in his magazine, the Freedom Era Weekly, which published a draft “Republic of Taiwan constitution” in 1988.
Yeh also praised the students during a commemorative ceremony held in honor of Deng in Yilan County on Saturday, saying that they had helped make her husband’s ideals come to fruition.
“Twenty-five years ago, Deng exercised his right to resist and self-immolated in a desperate attempt to defend free speech and defeat authoritarian leaders,” Yeh said.
“Today, his spirit is being renewed and continued by students gathering inside and outside the legislature, who use their courage, wisdom and passion to stand up against a totalitarian government,” Yeh said. “The seed of freedom Deng planted has brought forth a beautiful flower.”
In other developments, former Democratic Progressive Party chairman Lin Yi-xiong (林義雄) and his spouse, Fang Su-min (方素敏), have penned an open letter to students occupying the Legislative Yuan to thank them for bringing hope to the people of Taiwan.
“Dear students, ever since March 18, your actions have inspired so many Taiwanese and have brought new hope for their future. Thank you all very much,” Lin said in the letter released on Friday.
As a gesture of support for the students, Lin has been staging daily silent sit-ins on the corridor leading to the legislative chamber since March 29.
Citing quotes from Brazilian novelist Paulo Coelho’s The Alchemist, Lin said to the students: “When you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.”
“When I have been truly searching for my treasure, every day has been luminous, because I’ve known that every hour was a part of the dream that I would find it. When I have been truly searching for my treasure, I’ve discovered things along the way that I never would have seen,” Lin said, quoting from the novel.
Lin also shared his life’s motto with the students: “Those who suffer till the end will gain salvation. People who easily abandon themselves or their goals will never know they are only one step away from success.”