Sat, Feb 09, 2019 - Page 2 News List

Crowds drawn to detention center, torture chamber

PRE-WAR HISTORY:The police station is known as the place where authorities held Chiang Wei-shui, an important figure in Taiwan’s 1920s cultural movement

Staff writer, with CNA

The Taiwan New Cultural Movement Museum in Taipei’s Datong District is pictured on Monday.

Photo: CNA

Once a police station, the Taiwan New Cultural Movement Memorial Hall now attracts day trippers, who go there mainly to see a detention center and torture chamber that were housed in the building’s dingy interior.

Built in 1933 during the Japanese colonial era, the baroque-style building on Ningxia Road in Taipei’s Datong District (大同) was nothing special, said a police officer who worked there for 12 years before moving to a new precinct nearby.

During the Japanese colonial era it was the Taipei North Police Station and after World War II it became Datong Police Station, which was staffed by about 200 officers crowded into the drab interior, the officer said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Files were stacked haphazardly everywhere and noises from the street penetrated the walls day and night, he said.

However, the police station was infamous for its torture chamber, which was a water dungeon about half the height of an average person, the police officer said.

He said that during time he spent at the police station, from about 2000 to 2012, no one was ever put in the chamber, but it always mysteriously contained water.

Another grim feature of the station was its detention room, a half-moon shaped enclosure that allowed police to keep an eye on a prisoner from almost any angle, he said.

That was the space in which Chiang Wei-shui (蔣渭水), a key figure in Taiwan’s cultural and intellectual movement in the 1920s, was held four times on charges of posing a threat to public security during the Japanese colonial era, the Taipei City Government said.

The police station was designated a municipal historical site in 1998 and from 2006 was used as the preparatory office for the establishment of the Taiwan New Cultural Movement Memorial Hall.

In 2015, work began to convert the structure into a historical attraction and the museum opened in October last year, the city government said.

Now visitors can truly appreciate the enigmatic character of the structure, the police officer said.

A seasonal exhibition featuring Taiwanese cultural movements in the 1920s is to be held until June 23, the museum’s Web site said.

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