Greater Kaohsiung Mayor Chen Chu (陳菊) announced the designation of yesterday, April 7, as the city’s Freedom of Expression Day in honor of late democracy advocate Deng Nan-jung’s (鄭南榕) sacrifice.
Deng died in pursuit of “100 percent freedom of expression” on April 7, 1989, aged 43.
Chen was attending the 25th memorial ceremony for Deng, and said she hopes the legislature will designate the date a national Freedom of Expression Day in remembrance of Deng’s sacrifice for Taiwan.
Deng, then-publisher of the Freedom Era Weekly magazine, committed suicide by self-immolation in 1989 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.
Deng’s family holds a memorial ceremony every year on this day at the cemetery in New Taipei City’s Chingshan District (金山) where he was buried.
Former premier Frank Hsieh (謝長廷), former representative to Japan Koh Se-kai (許世楷), Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Pasuya Yao (姚文智) and Chen Pei-chi (陳佩琪) — wife of Taipei mayoral aspirant Ko Wen-je (柯文哲) — and many others attended the ceremony yesterday.
Deng Liberty Foundation president Hsu Chang-hsien (許章賢) said that from the White-Shirt Army movement — a demonstration against the government’s poor handling of the investigation into the death of army corporal Hung Chung-chiu (洪仲丘) in August last year — to the recent Sunflower movement, “young people are now using Internet technology to more fully exercise Deng’s hope of ‘100 percent freedom of expression.’”
“More and more young people now understand Deng’s spirit of sacrifice, and have learned that freedom is something that every generation must make an effort to fight for and protect,” Hsu said, expressing “hopes that the students can continue bravely and that Deng’s spirit can be with them at all times.”
Chiu Yu-ping (邱鈺萍), a Cheng Kung University student advocating naming South Banyan Square, a plaza on its campus, “Nan-jung Square” in honor of Deng, said: “The freedom of expression we have now was earned through the blood and tears of democracy movement pioneers 25 years ago. Now it’s our time to stand up and protect Taiwan and we will not cower away.”
Greater Tainan and Yilan County last year also designated April 7 as Freedom of Expression Day.