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July 29, 2017

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DPP compares protests to late activist's fight for free speech

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) leaders yesterday released statements to commemorate the late pro-democracy activist Cheng Nan-jung (鄭南榕), describing the ongoing student movement as part of Cheng's legacy.

Committing suicide by self-immolation while resisting arrest 25 years ago, Cheng was an avid supporter of "100 percent freedom of speech," and his ideals continue to be touted by many today. DPP Chairman Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌), former Chairwoman Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) and former Premier Frank Hsieh (謝長廷) wrote commemorative articles remembering Cheng; Su noted that the students fighting to protect democracy today are echoing the activist's defense of freedom.

"Today marks the 25th anniversary of Cheng's death and is also a day of freedom. The new generation is fighting for Taiwan's democracy inside and outside the Legislature; their actions are the best interpretation for freedom," said Tsai on her Facebook page.

Su remarked that since the student movement began, Taiwan has seen many precious values embodied in the protests. "The fire lit 25 years ago paved the way for freedom of speech, and it has sewn a number of seeds that have bloomed into beautiful sunflowers today," said Su.

After attending Cheng's memorial service yesterday, Hsieh stated that "freedom is worth more than living. Cheng used his own life as a testimony to this statement and enriched Taiwan's culture."

Student Leader Calls for Taiwan Independence

Student activist leader Chen Wei-ting (陳為廷) also took to Facebook to commemorate Cheng on the anniversary of his death, stressing his support for Taiwan's independence. "I still don't understand why it is problematic for (Taiwan and China) to be two countries, and why 'Taiwan independence' is a conspiracy," said Chen, who noted that he is willing to risk the Ma administration and the media's possible attempts to pin his statements against him in Cheng's honor.

During visits to the sit-in protesters outside the Legislature, student activist leader Lin Fei-fan (林飛帆) called for the demonstrators to think about what happened in the past 21 days. "How have we changed in the past three weeks? What have we achieved?" asked Lin, who also asked the demonstrators to not give up.

"Cheng Nan-jung said something 25 years ago; I believe all of you have heard of this. 'From now on, it is our business,'" Lin said in Taiwanese.

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