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Thousands attend vigil to mourn dead serviceman (update)
Central News Agency
2013-07-20 10:07 PM
Taipei, July 20 (CNA) Thousands of people attended a vigil Saturday evening in memory of Corporal Hung Chung-chiu, who died on July 4 after spending nearly a week in disciplinary confinement that he never should have been subjected to in the first place. Citizen 1985, the activist group that organized the vigil near the Legislative Yuan, demanded that the government get to the bottom of what caused Hung's death and make sure that such a tragedy will not happen again. Participants at the vigil were given stickers in black and red colors with slogans reading "fallen fairness and justice" and "no evading responsibility and revealing the truth," respectively. Ko Wen-je, head of Taipei-based National Taiwan University Hospital's Department of Traumatology, also showed up at the gathering and urged the Ministry of National Defense to uncover the truth and punish those responsible for Hung's death. Ko, who was asked to go through Hung's medical records to help identify the cause of death, said "it is clear that he died of heatstroke," and he called the incident a "case of collective bullying." Also attending the vigil were Hung's family members, who thanked the public for paying attention to the issue and offering their condolences. "We are glad that Chung-chiu's efforts are valued by society," said Hung's sister Hung Tzu-yung. "Hopefully, the sense of justice he helped bring out can change the way the military is managed." Families of other servicemen who were allegedly abused to death in the past also attended the event. The vigil was filled with both laughter and tears. The crowd burst into cheers when the organizers played a short film mocking the management of the facility where Hung was confined, while shedding tears when listening to Hung's family. The protesters also showed creativity in demanding that the government bring the truth behind Hung's death to light. Chiang Chung-wen, 63, brought a duck with him to express his anger at the government. "Even animals cannot accept how the issue has been handled by the government," said the man who traveled to the event from Taoyuan County. In memory of Hung, the organizer also said it prepared 7,000 candles, which were given out to those attending the event. The candles were used to shape the Chinese characters for "justice," "truth" and "human rights." The vigil was held after a rally earlier in the day, when tens of thousands of demonstrators took to the streets and called for an impartial investigation into Hung's death. During the protest, Deputy Defense Minister Andrew Yang accepted a petition letter and again apologized for Hung's death. Yang promised that his ministry will give the public an explanation of the case and expressed hope that the public will give his ministry an opportunity to repent, change and uncover the truth. Hung's death sparked a public outcry, in part because of the strange circumstances surrounding his case, including the fact that he was sent to the brig for an offense that merited nothing more than a reprimand. Many have also criticized the military for what they perceive as its lack of urgency in handling the issue and seeming disinterest in learning the truth behind why Hung was detained and how he was treated while in confinement. Since Hung's death, the defense ministry has taken a series of steps to try to ease public concerns, including launching an administrative investigation that resulted in administrative reprimands for more than 30 commissioned and non-commissioned officers. A military investigation into criminal liability is still underway. One senior officer and three non-commissioned officers have been taken into custody to date. (By Elaine Hou and Hsin-Yin Lee)
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