Sun, Apr 21, 2019 - Page 3 News List

Photo exhibition honors advocates of democracy

RECORDING HISTORY:Pan Hsiao-sha had the chance to photograph Deng Nan-jung and Chan Yi-hua before they set themselves on fire in 1989

By Huang Hsin-po  /  Staff reporter

Photographer Pan Hsiao-sha speaks at the opening of a photography exhibition on democracy advocates Deng Nan-jung and Chan Yi-hua at the Nylon Cheng Liberty Foundation in Taipei yesterday.

Photo: CNA

A photography exhibition on late democracy advocates Deng Nan-jung (鄭南榕) and Chan Yi-hua (詹益樺) by the Nylon Cheng Liberty Foundation yesterday opened in Taipei.

In 1984, Deng started the Chinese-language Freedom Era Weekly to pursue what he called “100 percent freedom of speech.”

He was charged with sedition and went into self-imposed isolation after publishing a draft “Republic of Taiwan constitution” in 1988.

On April 7, 1989, following 70 days of isolation, he set himself on fire as heavily armed police attempted to break into his office.

At Deng’s funeral on May 19, 1989, Chan followed in his footsteps and burned himself to death in front of the Presidential Office Building in Taipei.

The foundation launched the exhibition titled “A Great and Beautiful Seed” to mark the 30th anniversary of their deaths.

The exhibition features 24 black-and-white photographs taken by Pan Hsiao-sha (潘小俠).

The images document the advocates who pursed democratization in a turbulent era, poet and foundation director Lee Ming-yung (李敏勇) said.

Young people could connect with the historic events by exploring the images, he said, adding that it was a painful, yet interesting time.

Deng’s younger brother and exhibition convener Cheng Tsing-hua (鄭清華) said that when he heard about his brother’s death, he immediately returned from Hong Kong to deal with the funeral, but did not shed a tear.

He learned that Chan had set himself alight when he was heading to his brother’s funeral, he said, adding that he lost control and cried out Chan’s name.

Self-immolation is something that Deng had said only he could do, and was devastating to see Chan follow suit, he said.

The two men looked at the world through sober eyes and attempted to awaken Taiwanese with an irreversible act, while Pan captured their images as a calm observer, he said, encouraging people to stay calm and face the world no matter their predicament.

As an employee at the Chinese-language Independent Evening Post from 1986 to 1995, Pan had the opportunity to take photographs of Deng during his self-imposed isolation and Chan in 1989.

Pan said that he felt obligated to display the images, as they reflect historic memories and wounds.

After running in Taipei until May 11, the exhibition would move to Chiayi County and then to the 228 Memorial Hall in Taipei in July, the foundation said.

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