National Taiwan University (NTU) students and democracy activists are to commemorate former Carnegie Mellon University assistant professor Chen Wen-chen (陳文成) during a ceremony today which marks the 32nd anniversary of his mysterious death — a case that remains unsolved to this day.
They are set to gather at Chen Wen-chen Memorial Square on the NTU campus and pay tribute to the supporter of the pro-democracy movement at 6:30pm in a ceremony that has become an annual event.
Chen, a graduate of NTU’s Department of Mathematics, studied in the US before becoming an assistant professor at Carnegie Mellon University’s Department of Statistics.
He was detained by the Taiwan Garrison Command — a military security agency during the Martial Law era — for interrogation on July 2, 1981, when he returned to Taiwan to visit his family because of his support for the pro-democracy movement.
The next morning, Chen’s body was discovered next to the library at NTU and it was unclear whether his body had been deliberately placed there to appear as though he had committed suicide or had fallen from the building by accident.
The Taiwan Garrison Command said it released Chen after the interrogation and that it had nothing to do with his death.
Chen’s case, also known as the Chen Wen-chen Incident, was one of several possible murder cases related to democracy activists or their families which have remained unsolved after decades of investigation.
A non-profit, the Chen Wen-chen Memorial Foundation, was created in memory of the assistant professor.
Another notable case occurred on Feb. 28, 1980 — exactly 33 years after the 228 Massacre of 1947, when Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) troops opened fire on civilians, killing thousands — when former Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) chairman Lin I-hsiung’s (林義雄) mother and his twin daughters were murdered.
Although the former KMT regime was strongly suspected of playing a role in the murders, there is no evidence to prove the speculation.