Pro-independence groups yesterday paid tribute to Taiwanese independence activist Chen Chih-hsiung (陳智雄) at a press conference that commemorated Chen’s execution 50 years ago by the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) regime.
Chen’s daughter, Vonny Chen (陳雅芳), displayed her father’s final letters written before his execution — which she did not receive until March this year — at the news conference organized by the World United Formosans for Independence (WUFI).
Born in Pingtung in 1916, Chen was executed on May 28, 1963. According to WUFI, Chen was the first Taiwanese independence activist to be executed in Taiwan.
Vonny Chen, who grew up in Indonesia and does not speak Mandarin, told the press conference in English that her resentment toward her father as a child vanished after getting to know more about her father’s “courageous story” as she became older.
“I received compensation from Taiwan’s government about 10 years ago, but I could not care less about the money because I would rather have my father back,” Vonny Chen said, adding that she never knew about the letters and properties of her father in government archives until March.
Chen Chih-hsiung, described as “the No. 1 martyr for Taiwanese independence” by his acquaintances, was always high-spirited in his prison cell, said Liu Chin-shih (劉金獅), who stayed next door to him in prison.
Chen Chih-hsiung shouted “Long live Taiwan independence” twice before he was sent to the execution ground on that fateful day, Liu said.
Knowing that Chen had always been proud of his belief and refused to be intimidated by prison officials or the fear of death, the soldiers smashed his feet, pierced his cheek with steel wires and stuffed a cloth in his mouth before dragging him to the execution ground, Liu said.
A multilinguist, Chen worked as a translator in Indonesia for the Japanese Imperial Army during the Pacific War and after World War II, became a jewelry dealer there, where he assisted in the Indonesian independence movement and was imprisoned by the Dutch.
Chen later devoted his energy to the Taiwanese independence movement and was named ambassador to Southeast Asia by the Japan-based provisional government of the Republic of Taiwan in February 1958 and served in that capacity until he left for Japan later that year.
Chen was kidnapped by the KMT officials in Japan and returned to Taiwan the following year, but he kept working for the independence movement. He was arrested by the Taiwan Garrison Command in 1962 and charged with rebellion.