Leveraging the power of the media, Tangwai Magazine challenged the authoritarian regime during the martial-law period. Not only did it raise people’s awareness of democracy and build their Taiwanese identity, Tangwai Magazine played a key role in bringing about democracy. However, it was often banned for criticizing the government or violating martial-law decrees. The magazine’s origins can be traced back to Free China, established by Lei Chen and others in 1949. The publication of Free China ended when Lei was imprisoned in 1960.
When speaking of magazines of this sort, one first thinks of Taiwan Political Review founded by Huang Hsin-chieh and Kang Ning-hsiang. Taiwan Political Review is considered to be the first magazine on democratic movements launched by local elites in postwar Taiwan. Other magazines soon followed, such as China Tide, New Generation, Demo Voice, Long Bridge, 1980s, Formosa, Cultivate, Care, and Freedom Era Weekly.
The library holds nearly 3,000 magazines on Taiwan’s democratic movements, generously donated by Ke Tsai A-li (as Ke Chi-hua’s Collections), Chin Tung-cheng, Teng Wen-yuan, Su Meng-lung, Yen Po-chuan, Tsai Ming-hua, and others. While we seek other publications and individual issues, the current collection already shows the core spirit of democratic movements in those days.
Volumes 1-4, Formosa (1979, Taipei). In 1979, Formosa Publishing organized an event in Kaohsiung for December 10, Human Rights Day, at which activists planned to demand democracy and freedom. The authorities sent soldiers and police officers to lock the site down, resulting in a bloody confrontation between protestors and police. After what is now known as the Formosa Incident or the Kaohsiung Incident, Taiwan Garrison Command arrested dissidents and tried them in military courts. Formosa Publishing and its service centers across Taiwan were forced to close down.（攝影：張育嘉）
Cheng Nan-jung, editor-in-chief of Freedom Era Weekly, shown on the back cover of Vol. 158 (1987, Taipei). Founded by Cheng in 1984 and published between March 12, 1984 and November 11, 1989, Freedom Era Weekly fought for free speech even after the Democratic Progressive Party was established in 1986 and martial law was lifted in 1987. Cheng took his life by setting fire to his office on April 7, 1989, after refusing to be arrested by the police. Only in 1992 did the government amend Article 100 of the Criminal Code, finally protecting freedom of thought, academic freedom, and freedom of speech.