Thursday, July 4, 2013

In Remembrance - 32nd Anniversary of Professor Chen Wen-chen's (陳文成) death

Thirty-two years ago today, Professor Chen Wen-chen's (陳文成) body was found at the bottom of the stairs at the library of the National Taiwan University, a day after the Taiwan Garrison Command detained him for an interrogation over his overseas involvement with pro-democracy and Taiwan Independence movement. Professor Chen was a faculty of Carnegie Mellon University in the Department of Statistics and was a graduate of the National Taiwan University's Mathematics Department. 

The Kuomintang (KMT) authoritarian regime at the time claimed Professor Chen had committed suicide, but the injuries on his badly bruised and broken body told another story. The Taiwan Garrison Command claimed they released Professor Chen immediately after the interrogation, and Professor Chen went home by himself. Professor Chen was never seen again. His body was discovered laying facedown near the stairs of the NTU library. 

Source: CWCMF
Suspiciously, Professor Chen's belt was not in his pants loops, and what Taiwanesetraditionally called "Walking money (腳尾錢)" was found in one of his shoes. Executioners or assassins would often place walking money inside of the victim's shoes to ensure the victim heads toward reincarnation instead of coming back to seek revenge.

Tina Chou (周清月) of the Associated Press wrote a story on two Americans coming to Taiwan to perform autopsy on Professor Chen. The Government Information Office (GIO) headed by James Soong (宋楚瑜) accused Chou of filing a "non-factual" reporter and requested that she made corrections. Chou's press credential was cancelled by the GIO. Tina's own account on her involvement with Professor Chen's case can be found here.

Source: CWCMF
Professor Chen's death was one of several murder cases involving democracy and Taiwan independence activists and their families. Most of these cases remain unsolved, including Professor Chen's case, as one could not find concrete evidence demonstrating the KMT regime committed the murder, though the government's involvement was more than likely and was greatly suspected. 

I went to the Chen Wen-chen Memorial at NTU last night. The event was sponsored by the Chen Wen-chen Foundation and the NTU Student Association. It was a very moving event with Professor Chen's brother speaking and his son, Eric, making an appearance via a video clip. 

Source: CWCMF
I climbed to the roof of the library to see how far Professor Chen would have fallen, if he werecommitting suicide as authority claimed.  The felt a bit eerie to be standing at the edge, but I wanted to see, as this case bears personal significance to me.

Just as the students were about to shine Professor Chen's portrait on a board for the candle light vigil, lightening lid up the sky and the area where Professor Chen's body was found, followed by the deafening thunder. It then started pouring as event attendees held candles and place them around Chen. I was able to snap a photograph when the lightening stuck.

The event ended at around 9:30pm.  It was still pouring as I walked down the Coconut Tree Boulevard (Yelin Boulevard, 椰林大道) and headed home.  

From the roof top where they dropped Chen Wen-chen's body

A moment of silence

Professor Chen's brother, who is also a mathematics professor, speaks
Chen Wen-chen's son, Eric


No comments: