The Hung Chung-Hsiu Incident was a formative event in the rise of mass protests in Taiwan before the Sunflower Movement, seeing as the incident led to some of the largest demonstrations before the Sunflower Movement. Military cadet Hung Chung-Hsiu (洪仲丘) died under mysterious circumstances on July 4th, 2013, originally having been set to be discharged from compulsory military service on July 6th. Hung is thought to have been punished for having been caught with a camera phone on a base in Yangmei (楊梅) and forced undertake physical exercise drills until he suffered heatstroke and fell into a coma.
Demonstrations on August 3rd, 2013 on Ketagalan Boulevard. Photo credit: Yoshi Huang/Flickr/CC
Some allege Hung’s death to have been the product of previous tensions between Hung and his superiors in the military. After Hung’s death, questions were raised about why Hung was forced to undertake physical exercise drills until he died, Hung having reportedly been refused water or medical assistance even when he requested this. Likewise, CCTV recordings of Hung’s detention were found to have been deleted, suggesting a cover-up within the military, and physical and mental evaluations of Hung which should normally be performed before soldiers are detained were expedited. Hung’s autopsy also suggested foul play.
Public backlash led to major protests from Taiwanese society against Hung’s treatment, with 30,000 gathering outside the Ministry of Defense on July 20th, 2013, and over 100,000 on August 3rd, 2013, protestors forming a sea of white in front of the Ministry of Defense, having been asked to wear white at the demonstrations.
These demonstrations were coordinated by the group Citizen 1985, which later had a large part to play in the Sunflower Movement, even if the group also received scrutiny for attempting to overly restrict protests and also an elitist attitude for claiming that they were “elite” protesters and not merely members of the common masses. Further demonstrations were later held on ROC National Day on October 10, 2013, also known as Double Ten Day, at 10:10 AM, including demonstrators surrounding KMT headquarters. Although 37 military officials later received punishment and Minister of National Defense Kao Hua-Chu (高華柱) resigned in apology, many saw the punishments that they were sentenced with as too little, and in many cases, some got off with no punishment at all.
Photo credit: Yoshi Huang/Flickr/CC
Many of the members of the New Power Party (時代力量), which formed after the Sunflower Movement, including Hung Chung-Hsiu’s older sister Hung Tzu-Yung (洪慈庸), Freddy Lim (林昶佐), and lawyers within the party, first met each other through demonstrations regarding Hung Chung-Hsiu’s death.
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