Protesters from the Presbyterian Church in Taiwan surrounded a police car in the afternoon of Jan. 8, 1988, after discovering a cache of wooden clubs, spears and swords inside. They demanded to know if the weapons were to be used against them, and the situation escalated as the two sides clashed.
The churchgoers had gathered in support of Tsai Yu-chuan (蔡有全) and Hsu Tsao-te (許曹德), who were being tried for advocating Taiwanese independence at an event to celebrate the establishment of the Taiwan Political Victims Association (台灣政治受難者聯誼總會).
Tsai was a graduate of the church’s Tainan Theological College and Seminary. But the church’s involvement with Taiwanese independence dated back to August 1977, when it publicly declared that “Taiwan’s future should be decided by the 17 million residents of Taiwan.”
“To realize the wishes of Taiwanese to be independent and free, we urge the government to face the reality in this precarious international situation and take effective measures to make Taiwan a new and independent country,” the church said.
The church retains its stance to this day, continuing to urge the government through public statements.