The Transitional Justice Commission on Sunday announced that it would investigate the death of democracy and human rights advocate Chen Wen-chen (陳文成), as well as other unresolved cases that were allegedly politically motivated, with the help of tens of thousands of political documents.
Chen was found dead 37 years ago today next to what is now National Taiwan University’s (NTU) Department of Library and Information Sciences building, after having been questioned by Taiwan Garrison Command officers the day before.
Born in 1950 and an NTU graduate, Chen was an assistant professor at Carnegie Mellon University when he returned to Taiwan on May 20, 1981, to visit his family.
The Dr Chen Wen-chen Memorial Foundation has said that its investigations found that Chen was questioned about overseas students who had allegedly served as informants for the then-Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) regime.
The officers questioned Chen about his establishment of a foundation in the US to fundraise for the now-defunct pro-democracy Formosa Magazine, the foundation said.
Although US forensic doctors found signs of torture on Chen’s body, the garrison command claimed that Chen committed suicide, the foundation said.
The justice commission’s investigation of Chen’s case, the murder of veteran pro-democracy campaigner Lin I-hsiung’s (林義雄) mother and twin daughters in 1980 and other allegedly political cases would be deeper and more specific than what has been done until now, commission Deputy Chairperson Chang Tien-chin (張天欽) said.
The commission is to conduct a comprehensive investigation of the assailants and systems of accomplices during the period of authoritarian rule, he said.
The commission would not only clarify the role of Chiang Kai-shek (蔣介石), but also the complicated structures that made such violence possible, he added.
The commission has reportedly already sought the cooperation of the Ministry of Justice’s Investigation Bureau, which is to provide the commission with documents for investigation.
Media have reported that the commission would begin by selecting 10,000 out of 30,000 documents that it believes merit investigation and pick out any documents relevant to the cases.
Since its official launch on May 31, the commission has received more than 40 letters of appeal from the public, an unnamed government official said.
Most of the letters were written by people seeking redress for injustices, followed by people hoping to remove authoritarian symbols, the source said, adding that the letters show that the public has high hopes for the commission.
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