The Presidential Office yesterday expressed condolences over the death of Taiwanese independence activist and former senior adviser to the president Hsieh Tsung-min (謝聰敏), who passed away at a New Taipei City hospital on Sunday at the age of 85.
Born in 1934, Hsieh was a role model in the fight for Taiwanese democracy and was part of the effort to help Taiwanese political prisoners escape the clutches of the-then authoritarian Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) regime in the 1970s and 1980s, the Presidential Office said.
It lauded Hsieh’s courage and contribution to the nation in the pursuit of freedom and democracy.
In 1964, Hsieh codrafted “A Declaration of Formosan Self-salvation” with his professor, Peng Ming-min (彭明敏), and classmate, Wei Ting-chao (魏廷朝), when he was a graduate student at National Chengchi University.
The declaration was a manifesto that stated Taiwan and China were two separate nations and that Taiwan’s future should be decided by its people.
Shortly after it was issued, Peng, Wei and Hsieh were arrested. Hsieh was imprisoned for more than 11 years.
After his release, he went to the US and during his seven years there, he helped many political prisoners in Taiwan flee the KMT regime.
He later returned to Taiwan and was elected as a Democratic Progressive Party legislator, serving two terms from 1992 to 1998.
During that period, Hsieh put forth a series of bills on compensation for victims of the White Terror era like himself. The bills were passed in 1998.
In December last year, Hsieh was exonerated by the Transitional Justice Commission.
The White Terror era was a period of political persecution in Taiwan that lasted from 1949 to 1987 during the KMT’s governance.
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