TAIPEI (CNA) — Plans are afoot to build a memorial square at National Taiwan University (NTU) to honor Chen Wen-chen (陳文成), a young democracy activist who died under mysterious circumstances and whose body was found on the NTU campus in 1981.
At a fundraiser at the university on Saturday, NTU student groups and the Dr. Chen Wen-chen Memorial Foundation & Museum said they hoped to raise NT$12 million (US$394,974) to finish construction of the square by July 2020.
A 31-year-old mathematics professor at Carnegie Mellon University, Chen had returned home to Taiwan for a vacation and was summoned on July 2 to a meeting with the Taiwan Garrison Command, a since-disbanded state security force.
His body was discovered the next day near the main library of NTU, where Chen received his undergraduate degree, in what is widely regarded as a government reprisal for Chen’s support of Taiwan’s democracy movement.
In 2015, the NTU university assembly designated the location where Chen’s body was found as a memorial square, and in 2017 it erected a plaque in his honor.
But previous efforts to build a memorial at the location have failed due to insufficient funding.
In a press conference at NTU on Saturday, Chen’s sister Chen Pao-yueh (陳寶月) said her brother died 38 years ago but information related to his death has still not been made public.
According to Chen Wen-chen Memorial Foundation Chairwoman Yang Huang Mei-hsing (楊黃美幸), when Chen died, his father went to the United States to protest, wearing a placard with a message on each side reading “Give me my son” and “Give me the truth.”
To this day, however, the truth has not come out, Yang Huang said.
Other speakers at the event, such as NTU Student Association President Tu Chun-Ching (凃峻清), emphasized the role that the memorial would have in preserving Taiwan’s collective memory of its past.
Students will be able to use this space to understand Taiwan’s history and to think about its future, Tu said, and he hoped to return to the completed square next July for its dedication ceremony.
(By Chen Chih-chung and Matthew Mazzetta)