September 12, 1947|
April 7, 1989 41) (aged|
Taiwan Provincial Cheng Kung University|
Fu Jen Catholic University
National Taiwan University
|Occupation||publisher, democracy activist|
Cheng Nan-jung (Chinese: 鄭南榕; pinyin: Zhèng Nánróng; Pe̍h-ōe-jī: Tēⁿ Lâm-iông; from time to time an anglicised name is used: Nylon Deng; September 12, 1947 – April 7, 1989) was a Taiwanese publisher and pro-democracy activist. He was the founder of the Freedom Era Weekly. He is most known internationally for setting himself on fire in support of freedom of speech.
Background and career
Deng's father was an immigrant from Fuzhou, Fujian. His mother was from Keelung, Taiwan. Deng was born in the year of the February 28 Incident. On his first job-seeking résumé, Deng Nan-jung was to write: "I was born the year of the February 28 Incident, and this incident has tormented me throughout my life.... Only because we were protected by our neighbors were we mainlanders safe from the wave of retaliation from the Taiwanese." He wrote that his experience growing up in the White Terror drove his commitment to Taiwan independence.
Deng studied engineering at Taiwan Provincial Cheng Kung University, and philosophy at Fu Jen Catholic University and National Taiwan University. He refused to take the classes on Sun Yat-sen Thought (國父思想), and handed back his National Taiwan University graduation certificate.
In March 1984, he founded Freedom Era Weekly and declared that "[it was] fighting for 100 percent freedom of speech." Deng Nan-jung had registered 18 different magazine licences, as "spare tires" for use when the Kuomintang banned the magazine and suspended publication. He said "I'm not scared of arrest nor of being killed, basically, I'll fight them to the very end." The magazine was banned several times by the authorities but continued to be printed and distributed.
Immolation and aftermath
In 1989, Deng was charged with insurrection for printing a proposal for a constitution for the Republic of Taiwan. An arrest warrant was issued. He refused to appear in court. When the police attempted to break into his office in order to arrest him on April 7, he committed suicide by self-immolation. He set fire to his office and died in the blaze. His immolation protest against the Kuomintang was covered by Formosa Television.
At Deng's funeral on May 19, another Taiwanese pro-democracy activist, Chan I-hua, also immolated himself when the funeral procession was blocked by police.
Deng's widow, Yeh Chu-lan, held senior positions in the Democratic Progressive Party administration between 2000 and 2005. Former vice-Prime Minister, she was acting mayor of Kaohsiung from July 2005 to December 2006. In 2007 she was mentioned as a possible running mate for Frank Hsieh in the 2008 Taiwan Presidential Election, but in the end Hsieh picked Su Tseng-chang.
- Cheng Nan-jung Liberty Museum
- List of political self-immolations
- Taiwan independence movement
- Copper, John F. (2003). Taiwan: Nation-State Or Province? (4th ed.). Boulder: Westview. ISBN 9780813339559.
- Rawnsley, Gary D.; Rawnsley, Ming-Yeh T., eds. (2003). Political Communications in Greater China: The Construction and Reflection of Identity. London: RoutledgeCurzon. ISBN 9780700717347.
- twhistory.org.tw - An epic poem not yet finished: Twelve years after Cheng Nan-jung's self-immolation