Freedom of Speech Day to honor Deng Nan-jung

FREE SPEAKER::DPP lawmakers want a national Free Speech Day to honor the legacy of the magazine publisher who sacrificed his life to further the cause

By Chris Wang  /  Staff reporter

Fri, Apr 06, 2012 - Page 3

Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) lawmakers yesterday said they would propose making April 7 Freedom of Speech Day in memory of the late Deng Nan-jung (鄭南榕), a democracy advocate who committed suicide 23 years ago.

“The DPP Legislative Caucus unanimously supports the proposal to make April 7 a national Freedom of Speech Day to honor Deng’s fight for basic human rights and we call for non-partisan support for the proposal,” DPP Legislator Pan Men-an (潘孟安) said at a press conference held at Deng Nan-jung Memorial Museum.

The museum is located in the apartment in downtown Taipei where Deng set himself ablaze 23 years ago.

On April 7, 1989, Deng, then-publisher of the Freedom Era Weekly magazine, committed suicide by self-immolation at the age of 43, when police tried to arrest him for printing a proposal for a constitution for the Republic of Taiwan in the magazine. Deng had locked himself inside the office for 71 days before setting himself ablaze.

Yeh Chu-lan (葉菊蘭), Deng’s widow who went into politics after Deng’s death and served as vice premier under the former DPP administration, said yesterday that her husband’s death had left a legacy to Taiwanese, even though his death had caused great pain to the family.

“When he told me about his plan to set an example for Taiwanese’s endless fight for freedom of speech with his death, I told him that Taiwanese are forgetful and no one would remember him, but history proves that he was right because his legacy lives on,” Yeh said.

The DPP caucus has gathered 42 signatures from DPP and Taiwan Solidarity Union lawmakers for the proposal, DPP legislator Lee Ying-yuan (李應元) said.

The DPP has also demanded that the government submit an annual report on press freedom.

The DPP caucus of the Taipei City Council also proposed renaming the lane where the museum is located as “Freedom Lane.”