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Ex-leader of Taiwan's largest militia in 1940s passes away at 102

Writer, pro-independence activist Chung Yi-jen was jailed for 17 years in 1947

Chung Yi-jen. 

Chung Yi-jen.  (CNA photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Chung Yi-jen (鍾逸人), a Taiwanese pro-independence activist and militia leader in 1947, later an award-winning author, died of pulmonary edema at a hospital in Taichung on Sunday evening (March 19).

In 1947, Chiang Kai-shek (蔣介石)'s Nationalist Party, known as the Kuomintang, was cracking down on dissidents of corrupt nationalist officials sent to rule Taiwan after the Japanese occupation. Chung, a then-college teacher at Taiwan Provincial Taichung Teachers College, rallied faculty and students to form the "27th Corps."

The group quickly won support among students in central Taiwan. However, the group disbanded only two weeks later, and Chung was put in prison for 17 years, according to CNA.

When he was released from prison in 1964, martial law still remained in place Taiwan until 1987. Chung could not return to school due to political repression, so he opted to start his own business.

In the 1980s, with the support of Lee Chiao (李喬), a leading figure in Taiwanese literature, Chung began writing memoirs and literary works in memory of the victims of the 228 Massacre. A human and civil rights advocate, he was honored with Taiwan's top literary awards.

In a 228 memorial event in 2019, President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) hailed Chung, recalling his impassioned words when he was arrested in 1947: "I am a Taiwanese, not a Chinese." Tsai said Chung's activism paved the way for Taiwan's democratic society.