21 Nov 2008
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Mistrust and Violence in Taiwanese Society: Three Stories
Ming-Tsung Lee's speech in 1107, Freedom Square.
Lee is an associate professor in Dept. of Sociology, NTU
Freedom Square (2008/11/07): Ming-Tsung Lee, the initiator of the sit-in action in the Freedom Square for protesting the violence of the Police in 6th of November, talked about his experience in three little stories happened around the very first hours of the activity.
As the coordinator of the action, Ming-Tsung Lee got various threatening calls and sms, whether anonymous or not, from the very first moment the action initiated. “You’re nothing but an assist professor,” said one of the callers, "and I'm the professor. Do you still want to get promoted?” Ming-Tsung Lee is now an assistance professor in the Department of Sociology, NTU.
The police exerted violent to the sit-in students by their verbal humiliation. When the sit-in-students carried away by the policemen to where no media shoot, the policemen told the students “Stop acting. No one is shooting you. Just walk away by yourself."
These verbal humiliations made the student feel hurt, because it was the mistrustful response from the police to the good will which the student had showed in the past 20 hours. The students gave the policemen drinks, chat with them, and even gave them the lily flowers sent by the supporting people.
Ming-Tsung Lee would also like to protest for the distort reported by TVBS news. What the student showed to the police is good will, not the support as TVBS said.
Ming-Tsung Lee was applied physical violent by the policemen while being carried away from the square of Administration Yuan. He was pinched, kicked (to his private), and hit. In this video, he restated the three appeals, that are, President Ma and Premier Liu APOLOGIZE, Wang and Tsai STEP DOWN, and AMEND The Parade and Assembly Law.
These stories expressed the foundation of the reciprocal trust is destroyed in the Taiwanese society, and Ming-Tsung Lee thinks it is the government who should be responsible for.
Protest in Liberty Square, Taipei:
• Apart from large rally, number of sit-in protest students remains consistent throughout the week, few in the dawn, significant more protesters joint after noon, peaked around 30-40 in late afternoon, based on these figures, The Movement has estimated that about 70 sit-in protesters are involved in weekday. The Movement attributed the declining number of sit-in protesters to cold weather and approaching mid-term exam for university students.
• The Movement has started organizing contact information of those involves in the protest, networking various civil societies, non -government organizations (NGO) and different sectors of society, with long-term objective of broadening Wild Strawberries’ appeal to the society at large.
• The issue of poor communication between sit-in student protesters and the Movement Headquarter has been resolved through the liaison conference held on 8th November, which clarified the chain of commands and updating the feed-back mechanism.
• Certain quarters of Society have expressed their interest in join the protest. The Movement decides that the protest will remain student only for the time being.
Protest in other cities
• Rotating-shift works quite well.
• Not enough student-protesters participating.
• Not enough student-protesters, daily protester number remain single digit.
• Protesters high in spirit, confident that they can last all the way into mid-December
• Threatened by the police for expressing anti-Ma (President) sentiments. Outlook for Kasohsiung protest remain pessimistic
Eastern Taiwan Protest:
• Under preparation
All regional protests are operational, though some difficulties have surfaced in the week, naming insufficient protesters and police interventions. No central command exists currently in Wild Strawberries Movement, all regional protest are organized in free association with Taipei protest, local protest can be organize and dissolve without the consent of Taipei protest organizer, it is imperative that, if the local leadership do wish to discontinue their protests, they shall consider possible affect on the morality of entire Wild Strawberries Movement. The Movement organizer here in Taipei hereby, urging those intent to discontinue protest, do consult with other regional and Taipei protest organizers first, so that ripple-effect can be avoid, morality be maintain, and best cause of action can be devise for the sake of movement.
• Academics are extremely enthusiastic about the causes of Wild Strawberries Movement; Seminars have been organized for protest students by university academic staff on diverse topics. The academics also held public lectures to educate the general public.
Non-Government Organization (NGO):
• Enthusiastic supporters from the beginning, providing both logistic and morale support to The Movement. Future co-operation on certain topics with The Movement have been identified. The Movement are grateful for NGOs’ support in resources, Public Relations expertise and expert advices by Professional NGOs.
Arts and Culture Community:
• Late comer, but no less then others in enthusiasm, organized and provided entertaining yet informative event last weekend. National Taipei Art University has announced its support for The Movement.
• Provides both moral and logistic support, through some skirmish occurred in Taipei Protest between public supporting students and pro-government extremists. The decision on general public’s participation in actual sit-in protest is still under discussion.
Executive branch of Government:
• The cabinet (The Executive Yuan) refused to admit the excess uses of violence against protesters during the week of Chinese Envoy’s visit; the cabinet praises the police action as “appropriate” and “Lawful”. The Ma administration shows no intention to neither negotiate nor respond to The Movement’s Twelve Demands. Furthermore, the ruling KMT party has pleaded its support to Ma’s stance; it is fear that with KMT’s majority in the assembly, amending the Law of Assemble and Parade would be extremely difficult.
• The Ma administration has refused to dismiss the two high officials whom the protesters have named and blamed for the violence, instead, as said by Ma, no apology would be offer, and no dismissal would be made.
• In light of Ma administration’s indifferences to protests’ plights, The Movement must re-consider it’s strategy in forcing the Government into negotiation, it is abundantly clear that the Ma administration will not dismiss culprits for the violence, will not apologize for the atrocities committed, and certainly no genuine will to amend the much derided Law of Assemble and Parade. Without extracting single concession from Government, The Movement is at risk of losing popular support and momentum.
Legislative branch of Government:
• Both DPP and KMT caucus have proposed their amendment of Law of Assemble and Parade, although the KMT version is far less satisfactory then those demanded by The Movement. Further, the KMT has mobilized its majority in the assembly to delay the public hearing date for the proposed amendments, hoping that the delay would wether public’s support and The Movement’s resolve.
• Media attentions have largely shift to the trial of former president Chen, Shui-Bien. The media also attempt to portray the Movement as pro-DPP fringe group, hence, politicising actions of Wild Strawberries. It is also noted, that rather then focuses on the plights of the Movement, the media prefer to report on the minor incidents, such as skirmish between supporting public and pro-government extremists, while ignoring original three demands put forwards by the students.
The Movement must refocus and re-energize in face of un-friendly media, government that want to neither negotiate nor respond, legislature that delayed amendment hearing through procedural means. New methods in forcing the Government into the negotiation table must be devise, Different demands for changes in the Law of Assemble and Parade from myriad NGOs must be consolidated in single, cohesive policy that can garners supports from the populace, safeguards basic human rights, reconcile the freedom of expression and needs in maintaining social cohesion.
New directives regarding the future action and organization of The Movement will be discuss in the coming days, The Movement will also propose its own version of amendment to the Law of Assemble and Parade in near future after consultations with students, NGOs, and Professional groups. Comments and thoughts about The Movement’s version of amendment are welcome, Suggestions in how to mobilize popular supports for this particular amendment is much appreciated.
Last and not least, in the spirit of democracy, Regional Protest Organizers are welcome in participating the decision making process of The Movement, any thoughts, comments, suggestions, are always appreciate here in Taipei.
When the president of our country sells out the people’s basic civil rights, hurts the citizens’ fundamental human dignity, and disregards our voices, what’s left is the empty shell devoid of soul.
Tonight, artist Lily Wei, along with students of Wild Strawberries Movement warmed up for the participatory art event by lying on the ground and tracing the body contours of one another. There are now many human shapes in various positions drawn in chalk on Liberty Square. Lily Wei expresses: ‘Anyone who cares about human rights and liberty in Taiwan are welcome to join in the art in action’. You are invited to experience the pulse and heartbeats of one another together tomorrow afternoon, and to listen to the thundering outcries of the empty human figures.
Where: Liberty Square (the former Chiang-Kai Shek Memorial Hall).
When: Sunday November 23, 2008. 1:45 pm
What: Art in Action
Who: You and all those who care about the liberty of Taiwan.
Come, lie down with us on the ground to be part of the casualty of stolen autonomy.
Local citizens and international friends are welcome!
Participants please bring your masks, hats, and sunglasses. And a camera if you like!
Please wear black, grey or white if possible as symbol of mourning.
The Art Mobilize Taiwan Initiative
Full Text and picture, please click The Free Dictionary
We shall not forget!
Press Release from International Federation of Journalist
The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) urges Taiwan's National Police Agency (NPA) to stop asking media personnel for information about protesters at a recent public demonstration.
According to the Association of Taiwan Journalists (ATJ), an IFJ affiliate, members of the Taiwan police have reportedly asked media workers to provide photographs of demonstrators who participated in the "Yellow Ribbon Siege" protest against a meeting between Taiwan President Ma Ying-jeou and chairman of the Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Straits (ARATS) Chen Yunlin on November 16. The protest was reportedly organised by the Democratic Progressive Political Party.
The ATJ said there were concerns that police would seek to pressure photojournalists who refused the request for information by approaching their employers.
"The police have put the reporters in grave danger by demanding that they rat on their interviewees," ATJ president Leon Chuang said.
On November 18, Leon Chuang and several reporters requested a meeting with NPA Director-General Wang Cho-chun to resolve the issue, but the request was declined.
"The duty of a journalist is to report the truth and to protect his or her sources. Journalists must not be compelled to act as agents to collect information on behalf of government authorities. Police interference of this kind places freedom of the independent press in jeopardy," IFJ Asia-Pacific said.
"The IFJ urges Taiwan's authorities to respect press freedom and ensure that they do not compromise journalists' integrity. All media outlets are also urged to defend press freedom and refrain from handing over photographs."
Increasing police pressure on Taiwan's media has been reported since early November. An independent documentary film-maker was detained by police while she was filming Chen in a hotel on November 4.. In a separate incident, a television reporter was assaulted by police who reportedly mistook him for a protester during the November 16 rally.
For further information contact IFJ Asia-Pacific on +612 9333 0919
The IFJ represents over 600,000 journalists in 120 countries worldwide
Free: Germany, France, Benelux, U.K., U.S.A., Canada, Scandinavian countries,.../1/1
Free: Japan, South Korea /1/2
| ? Is Taiwan going upward?
Free: TAIWAN /2/1
| ? Or downward?
Partly Free: Hong Kong (China) /5/2
Partly Free: Singapore /5/4
Not Free: China /7/6
Not Free: North Korea, Tibet /7/7
Data from Map of Freedom, Freedom House, Washington
Report on Taiwan (2008)
Political Rights Score: 2
Civil Liberties Score: 1
Taiwan’s political elite became embroiled in a series of corruption scandals in 2007 that tarnished the reputation of leading figures in both the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and the opposition Kuomintang (KMT). Meanwhile, in the run-up to the 2008 legislative and presidential elections, cross-strait relations and the issue of “Taiwan identity” took center stage, much to the alarm of officials in both Beijing and Washington. (Read Details)
November 20, 2008
Freedom House urges Taiwan's government to create an independent commission to thoroughly investigate clashes between police and activists protesting Chinese envoy Chen Yunlin's historic visit and recommend needed reforms.
"A public investigation of the violence—which involved both sides—will send a critical message that the new government of President Ma Ying-jeou is interested in upholding the democratic values of transparency and accountability," said Jennifer Windsor, Freedom House executive director. "The inquiry should examine evidence on both sides and recommend any needed reforms to police practices and the legal framework governing demonstrations."
Hundreds of university students are currently staging a sit-in in Taipei's Freedom Square and several other cities to protest the government's handling of the incident. During Chen’s visit, police reportedly used heavy-handed tactics—including physical assault, arbitrary detention and destruction of property—to prevent Chen from seeing symbols of Taiwanese or Tibetan independence, as well as broader demonstrations against the Chinese regime. Demonstrators also employed violence against police, throwing rocks and petrol bombs outside Chen's hotel on November 6.
The clashes reveal a need for police to undergo crowd control training that adheres to the standards used in other democracies. Likewise, demonstrators and political advocacy groups must recommit themselves to orderly protests that avoid violence under any circumstances.
The inquiry commission should examine controversial passages in Taiwan's Assembly and Parade Law, such as restrictions on where people are allowed to demonstrate, and determine whether they need to be liberalized to protect citizens' rights to freedom of expression and assembly. The commission should also investigate claims that police are selectively enforcing the law.
The visit by Chen, the most senior Chinese official to visit Taiwan since it split from China in 1949, and the recent arrests of several opposition party figures are raising concerns that that President Ma and his Kuomintang Party may rollback democratic freedoms.
"The government must renew its commitment to tolerating robust freedom of assembly and peaceful protest, no matter what the cause," said Windsor.
Taiwan is ranked Free in the 2008 edition of Freedom in the World, Freedom House's survey of political rights and civil liberties, and in the 2008 version of Freedom of the Press. (Original page)
Freedom House, an independent nongovernmental organization that supports the expansion of freedom in the world, has been monitoring political rights and civil liberties in Taiwan since 1972.