Taiwan president attends mass to mark Lin family murder

Lin lost mother, twin daughters on Feb.28, 1980

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President Tsai (left) and Lin Yi-hsiung (reading, right).

President Tsai (left) and Lin Yi-hsiung (reading, right). (CNA photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – President Tsai Ing-wen attended a church service Tuesday to commemorate the unsolved murders of relatives of former Democratic Progressive Party Chairman Lin Yi-hsiung on this day 37 years ago.

On February 28, 1980, an unknown person broke into the home of Lin, who was detained for opposition activities at the time, and stabbed his mother and three daughters. Only one daughter survived the attack. The perpetrator was never found, but it is widely believed that the government was behind the attack since the home was under police surveillance.

February 28 is also the anniversary of the 228 Incident, in which between 18,000 and 28,000 people died during a crackdown by the Kuomintang government against an uprising in 1947.

The Lin family home was later turned into the Gikong Presbyterian Church, where Tuesday’s service took place.

Tsai attended the memorial mass with Lin and his wife, Fang Su-min, who had been visiting her husband in prison the day of the attack. The president embraced Lin and Fang as she arrived for the service.

Presbyterian priests called on Taiwan society to learn the lessons from history and to move together toward more harmony, justice and solidarity. Lin was seen crying during the mass.

Outside the church, a small number of protesters had appeared, accusing the president of using the 228 Incident and calling on the government to “drop the hate” and work toward reconciliation. Tsai supporters shouted words of encouragement at her.

It was the first time Tsai attended the annual mass in her capacity of president.