Postcard from… Liuzhangli

From the raised platform of the metro station in the Liuzhangli district of Taipei, the cemetery stretches out along the hillside and into the distance. This particular cemetery, built on the side of the hill along Chongde Street to take advantage of good feng sui, is ten kilometres long and one of six “Graveyards of Renowned People”, officially listed and recognised as historic sites.

Down there, amongst the many graves, is a simple three by three metre plot that is the final resting place of Chiang Wei-shui (蔣渭水), the founder of the Taiwanese People’s Party and a central figure in the 1920s opposition movement to Japanese rule. Imprisoned more than ten times, Chiang died in 1931 of typhoid in the same year that his political party was outlawed. Buried in Liuzhangli, his gravestone was inscribed with a quote from his will:

“All my comrades must fight on with diligence and determination, and old comrades must unite to become stronger.”

During the Martial Law era that lasted in Taiwan from 1949 until 1987, democracy activists would gather in the cemetery to hold memorials and rallies for supporters, whilst according to the Taipei Times, more recent years have seen the cemeteries as central meeting points for the development of human rights movements. It seems Chiang Wei-shui’s spirit lives on, in the place where he was laid to rest.