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Special film screenings, walking tours for 'Freedom of Speech Day' kicks off

04/03/2024 09:45 PM
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CNA photo April 3, 2024
CNA photo April 3, 2024

Taipei, April 3 (CNA) The Ministry of the Interior (MOI) on Wednesday launched a series of events to commemorate Taiwan's "Freedom of Speech Day" observed annually on April 7 since 2016, including movie showings and walking tours in Taipei.

At an opening ceremony, Deputy Interior Minister Wu Tang-an (吳堂安) said the commemorative events from April 3 to May 25 seek to go beyond Taiwan's democratic movement and provide a glimpse into how other countries fought for freedom and democracy.

"Through this diverse range of activities, we look forward to showcasing the hard work and bravery demonstrated by individuals in Taiwan and around the world who have advocated for democracy and freedom," he added.

A total of seven movies were selected for a special screening on either Saturday or Sunday afternoon over the next seven weeks, featuring stories of people who attempted to live under authoritarian regimes with dignity or even stand up and oppose oppression.

They include "Broken Keys," a movie by Lebanese director Jimmy Keyrouz about a musician who tries to rebuild his piano destroyed by extremists, and "No Bears" by Iranian filmmaker Jafar Panahi, who is known for being politically vocal with his satirical works.

Source: Red Sea International Film Festival

Each movie showing will be followed by a talk given by writers, scholars or journalists, according to the MOI.

In addition to movie showings, four walking tours will be held in Taipei, allowing participants to visit sites symbolic to Taiwan's democratic movement.

No registration is needed for those who wish to take part in the events.

"Freedom of Speech Day" was designated by the Executive Yuan in 2016 to remember pro-democracy activist and political magazine publisher Nylon Cheng (鄭南榕), who self-immolated at his office on April 7, 1989 in protest as the authorities attempted to arrest him on charges of sedition.

Taiwan was under martial law from 1949 to 1987, during which time freedom of speech, association and publication were heavily suppressed.

Even after martial law was lifted, freedom of speech continued to be stifled until Article 100 of the Criminal Code, which provided for the imprisonment of people deemed by the authorities to be guilty of anti-state activities, was amended in 1992.

Speaking of Freedom of Speech Day, Cheng Chu-mei (鄭竹梅), daughter of the late activist and president of the Nylon Foundation, underscored the importance of telling her father's story and what Cheng achieved for Taiwan's democratization every year.

"I don't know how Taiwan will commemorate this day over the next 10 or 35 years, but I hope we will continue to have the freedom and right to remember him," she added.

Event information (in Chinese): https://www.228.org.tw/228museum_event-view.php?ID=710

(By Teng Pei-ju)

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