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Taipei prison walls witness to history

Taipei prison walls witness to history

Taipei, Dec. 31 (CNA) The remaining walls of the old Taipei prison, built during Japan's colonial rule of Taiwan, stand as witness to Taiwan's penal history. Located in the city's Daan District, the ruins of the walls were once part of a prison built in the early 1900s by the Japanese in response to anti-Japanese uprisings around the country during that period. Large prisons were erected in Taipei and southern Taiwan's Tainan at that time. The stones used to build the walls came mainly from Taipei's old city walls, which were torn down by the Japanese at around the same time. Chu Yi-fang, a resident near the old prison site, said that when he was young, village elders often warmed him and other children to stay away from two locations in their community. One was the Wude Hall , where the Japanese used to practice martial arts, and the other was the old Taipei prison. Chu remembered the chilling atmosphere near the prison and hearing rumors about ghosts from elders when he was a child. He said it was also dark around the prison at night as there were no street lamps there. The only light came from a little yellow light bulb hanging from what locals called the "corpse gate" -- a stone arch and former side entrance to the prison that is now bricked up. Prisoners used to be executed in the prison courtyard and their families would claim their corpses from the gate. Liao Tien-ting, a legendary thief who was portrayed as an anti-Japanese hero, and Lo Fu-hsing, an anti-Japanese leader, are both said to have been executed in the prison, along with captured airmen from the Allied forces that defeated the Japanese Imperial Army. In 2009, a plaque was erected on the wall of the old prison to commemorate the executed airmen, among them 14 Americans who were executed June 19, 1945, 58 days before the end of the Second World War. After the war, the Republic of China government continued using the prison until 1963. The remains of the prison walls were designated as a historic site by the city in 1998. (By Wang Chao-yu and Christie Chen)


Updated : 2020-12-05 04:30 GMT+08:00