Shih Ming-teh

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Shih Ming-teh (施明德; pinyin: Shī Mngd; born January 15, 1941 in Kaohsiung) is a former political prisoner and politician in the Republic of China on Taiwan.

First arrested at the age of 21 in 1962 and charged with creating the "Taiwan Independence League" (a high school discussion club) with the intention of overthrowing the Kuomintang government, Shih was sentenced to life imprisonment in 1964. The sentence was commuted to 15 years in 1975, and Shih was transferred from Taiyuan prison to a rehabilitation centre.

Shih was finally released in on June 16, 1977. He prompted joined the Tangwai opposition movement, became a reporter for the Taipei Times and married the American researcher Linda Arrigo. After playing a part in the organizing the December 10, 1979 pro-democracy rally subsequently known as the Kaohsiung Incident, an arrest warrant was issued charging Shih with treason, and following 26 days on the run he was again arrested and sentenced to life in prison.

But Shih's fame had grown, and this time his arrest had attracted worldwide attention. Shih undertook a series of hunger strikes and demanded human rights and the freedom of all political prisoners. In July 1987, Chiang Ching-kuo lifted martial law and offered an amnesty to Shih, but he refused to accept it until he finally agreed that his conditions had been met, on May 20, 1990. In total, he spent 25 years in prison, 13 years in solitary confinement and over 4 years on hunger strike.

In 1992 Shih Ming-teh was elected to the Legislative Yuan to represent Tainan County, a post he held until 2000. Shih was also the chairman of the Democratic Progressive Party from 1993 to 1996. Shih had a falling out with his party, which he felt was leaning too much toward Taiwan independence and was seriously considered to be the KMT nominee for mayor of Kaohsiung in 2002. Since 2002, Shih has become increasing critical of the DPP and has grown closer to the pan-blue coalition although not actually joining it.

Shih ran in the December 2004 legislative election as an independent in the Taipei City North constituency, but like fellow candidate and DPP Chairman turned Pan-Blue supporter Hsu Hsin-liang, he narrowly lost the race in the highly contested district.

See also: Politics of Taiwanzh:施明德 ja:施明徳

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