Cheng Nan-jung Liberty Museum commemorates Cheng Nan-jung, a pioneering and influential figure in the Taiwan independence movement of the 1980s. The museum offers glimpses of Cheng’s life as a rights activist as well as the history of democratization efforts such as the Tangwai – literally “outside the (Kuomintang) party” – movement in Taiwan.
Cheng, who grew up in post-war Taiwan society under martial law, believed that only by breaking free from the authoritarian regime and gaining independence would Taiwan be able to truly achieve democracy and avoid repeats of tragedies like the February 28 Incident.
So in 1984, Cheng established the Freedom Era Weekly magazine with several friends to criticize and question the governing authorities that promoted the “One China” ideology. They also initiated pro-democracy activities to advocate for freedom of speech and Taiwan independence.
In 1987, just one month before the lifting of martial law, Cheng became the first prominent activist to publicly declare his support for Taiwan independence. He also continued to clash against the government’s oppression of free thought after the end of martial law, and published “The New Republic of Taiwan Draft Constitution” in Freedom Era Weekly in 1988.
Cheng was accused of treason and summoned to court the following year. Sticking to his pursuit of freedom of speech and thought, Cheng barricaded himself in the magazine’s office since January that year, and began a 71-day standoff with the police. On April 7, 1989, Cheng committed suicide by self-immolation and became viewed as a martyr of Taiwan independence.
Renovated from the original Freedom Era Weekly’s office building in Taipei, the museum was established in 1999 to preserve the historical scene of Cheng’s office, cultural relics, and documents from the magazine. Cheng’s personal belonging, manuscripts, and photos of the Taiwan independence movement are displayed as well.
Today, the museum serves as an important venue for promoting human rights education and freedom of speech, and for reminding the public to never forget the history of democratization in Taiwan.