Close

Support Global Voices

To stay independent, free, and sustainable, our community needs the help of friends and readers like you.

Donate now »

See all those languages up there? We translate Global Voices stories to make the world's citizen media available to everyone.

Learn more about Lingua Translation  »

Taiwan: At the Protest Frontline

It seems that many people, especially if you are outside Taiwan, found the recent protest against Chen Yinlin in Taipei confusing. Bob pointed out that in China, some incidents in the protest were interpreted as democratic violence. Such impression is probably a result of the mainstream media report on the violent scene. You may want to ask what had happened during this long day, Nov 6th? Why did so many people decide to demonstrate in the street? How did the violence happen? Let's take a closer look at and listen to these protesters.

aswing explained why protest:

很多人問我,除了上街頭,難道沒有更「理性」的方法來反應民眾和在野黨的情緒嗎?我必須反問這些人,可以作在冷氣房表決,誰願意冒著被警察痛毆的風險上街頭?如果馬英九覺得自己勝了,就是人民對兩岸政策已經作了抉擇,他就可以為所欲為,那麼他有沒有把自己當作全民的總統呢?嘗言民主政治是多數決,但國民黨 這半年來的粗暴做法,身為少數,並沒有任何被尊重的感覺。…當在野黨重新回到街頭,其實意味著民主正在倒退。

Many people asked me why don't we choose a more “rational” way to express our emotion and the opposition party's position than protesting on the street? I would ask these people: if we can vote in an air-conditioned room, who wants to protest on the street and take the risk of facing police violence? If Ma Ying-Jeou thinks he can do whatever he wants to do regarding Taiwan-China relationship because he won the presidential election, he fails to be a responsible president for all citizens? We know that democracy is majority-ruled. However, from what the Kuomintang have done in the past half year, I, as the minority, do not feel I am respected…When the opposition party needs to protest on the street again, we know that our democracy is degrading.

taiwanismycountry
Photo courtesy of kajin.

The government's overreaction in “protecting” Chen Yunlin and the police action in harassing the protesters had agitated more people to join the protest on 11/6.

Bo-Yu's mother arrived early.

有幾位因為前一晚參加過晶華那一場,比較有經驗,會提醒我們不要把絲帶繫在身體,說警察會直接扯絲帶,我也幫身旁的老先生老太太重新把絲帶綁在帽子背包上.

Some protesters who had joined the protest yesterday at Grand Formosa Regent Taipei reminded me not to tie the yellow ribbon on my body, because the police would pull the ribbon. I helped the elders beside me to tie the ribbons on their hats or backpacks.

safety
Photo courtesy of judie.

Protester harnyi was shocked when she arrived at the gathering location:

新聞中才能看到的恐怖畫面就這麼活生生的在眼前:數十位警察分別站在捷運出口兩邊,放眼望去都是拒馬,而陣陣的汽笛聲、喇叭聲、呼口號聲傳來,一股肅殺之氣瀰漫在空氣中。

The terrible scene shown on the television was right in front of me: dozens of policemen stood at the exit of the Mass Rapid Transit. There were barricades everywhere and sounds of airhorns, horns and slogans were echoing in the air, as if a bloody battle was about to happen.

obs noticed that the barricades didn't leave enough room for the protesters to move around.

從拒馬在中山南路的架設方式,就知道圍城行動控制不易。跑街頭運動那麼多年,沒看過這種ㄇ字型的陣仗,人群稍多就推倒了。

From the setup of the barricades on Zhongshan N. Rd, we could imagine that the protest would not be easy to control. I have attended protests for several years, but I have never seen such “ㄇ” shape before. These barricades were easily to be pushed over when the number of the protesters increased.

Most of the protest was peaceful, harnyi reported:

這個頭綁黃絲帶的先生很可愛,沿路一直叫大家踩這面旗子,他說:踩一踩,把氣出一出就算了。對呀,誰說民進黨的支持都是暴民,我們用自己的方式來宣洩情緒,幽默,沒害人。

This person with the yellow ribbon on his head was cute. He asked us to step on this flag. He said, “step on it and expel your anger, and then let it go.” Well, who said the supporters of the Democratic Progressive Party are rioters? We have our way to release our anger, which is humorous and harmless.

babyprotest
Photo courtesy of judie.

roseprotest
Photo courtesy of judie.

She disagreed with what was reported on the mainstream media later about their protest.

景福門那邊的確有一點衝突,可是,那不過是佔整個遊行人數的幾萬分之一,回家後看了新聞,在攝影機選擇性的鏡頭下,”暴動”竟然成了整個圍城活動的唯一主軸,這就是我們誇張的媒體生態,唉……

There were some incidents at Jingfumen (景福門) . However, they only represented one of tens of thousands protesters. I came home and watched the television. Under the selective camera, “riot” became the only focus of today's protest. This is the ecology of our media. Sigh…

The Democratic Progressive Party claimed to end the protest at around 6pm, but some protesters kept going to the Grand hotel, where Chen Yunlin stayed. dayinfu joined the protest there. She described:

幾個外國友人, 拿布條到現場, 鼓舞現場的士氣。 現場人來人往, 所以, 18:30~~22:30之間, 人數似乎沒什麼增減…我猜約在6、700之數。

Several foreign friends brought ribbons to us and cheered us up. There were people going and people coming, so the number of the protesters did not change a lot from 18:30 to 22:30…I guess there were 600-700 protesters there.

dayinfu left at 10:30pm, and she saw the incidents occur on the media after she came back home.

後來三台指揮車一一離去(約20:00左右, 我猜), 只剩群眾在原地繼續喊口號/汽笛發洩不滿。 約22:30, 我們覺得再待下去, 大概沒有什麼進一步的發展, 就先行離開回家。一到家才從新聞中得知警察暴動, 攻擊人民 。

Later the three protest trucks left (around 20:00, I guess), but some protesters stayed and continued to express anger with slogan and airhorns. At around 22:30, we felt that there would not be any new development and decided to go home. When I came home, I saw the news and learned that the police had launch attack at the people there.

a-gu described these following incidents and said both some protesters and the police were way over the line.

At one point in the afternoon the crowd suspected a man in a black shirt of being a gangster sent to make trouble or a police spy sent to collect information. They beat him up pretty bad and ripped his shirt off, presumably to see if he was wearing a wire…The second incident was the molotov cocktail thrown last night at the scuffle near the Grand Hotel. Could have very seriously injured a number of police officers and scared them for life. Maybe even kill somebody. Not cool.

On the other hand, the police were not the picture of calm law and order either. Some of the riot police were really unnecessarily violent with their billy clubs, really ripping on guys who were running away and who the police had no intention of actually arresting or anything.

I also had a friend who stayed until the end of the protest at the Grand hotel last night…I asked if the police were being reasonable or crossing the line, and he thinks the latter.

Yuglory left just before this incident.

我也很不諒解DPP把人丟了就走了,那天看了現場,就知道晚一點會出事,所以我10點多就拉了朋友走了,他們也都不清楚事情的危險性
後來跟一些朋友討論,大家對DPP當然不滿,對這些政客也是無言,但我們也認為,以那天的情況,那天就算要把群眾帶走也帶不走的,民怨真的很深,人民的憤怒是很清楚的.

I disapprove that the Democratic Progressive Party left protesters like that. I saw the condition and knew there would be trouble, so at about 10pm I left with my friends, who were not aware of how dangerous it might be.
Later I discussed with some friends. Of course we were not happy with the Democratic Progressive Party and those politicians. However, we thought from what we saw, it was very difficult to brought those protesters away. They were so angry, which is very obvious.

Some people were not happy with the violence:

群眾暴力丟擲棍棒、石塊,導致多起流血暴力衝突,這些活動有何實質意義?儼然形成群眾發洩的一個大舞台,不和平不理性。

These people threw rods and stones violently and caused several bloody violent incidents. What's the meaning of these activities? It became a big stage for people to express their anger. It is not peaceful, and it is not rational.

On the other hand, baladaily stated that what happened in the past few days was a culmination process of the confrontation between the protesters and police.

Citizens do not spontaneously become violent – and while there are always people in any demonstration who simply seek to cause chaos, they are vastly outnumbered by ordinary citizens who simply wish to express their dissent. It is only when those in power seek to use their authority to silence dissenting voices that good people may feel that they have little recourse. Successive administrations from both parties have been loath to relinquish the promise of almost unlimited authority offered by the current Parade and Assembly Law. What we saw over the last two days is simply the culmination of that process. The government could not resist the temptation to overstep their bounds far beyond what was required for public safety, and ended up facing the inevitable backlash.

Knowing that the decision of inviting Chen Yunlin to Taiwan was decided by the ruling party itself, jjw543 was disappointed with the ruling party due to what happened.

我難過是在於為什麼執政黨明知這種事的敏感性,為何不能事先與在野黨協調出最大共識?一意孤行,700多萬票是民意,500多萬票就不是民意?
即便少數要服從多數,也不代表多數意見就能完全漠視少數人意見一意孤行,更何況這個所謂的少數其實並不少,多數也沒多到那裡去,再者,投你一票的人也未必完全認同急速向中國靠攏主張…

I am sad because the ruling party should know how sensitive this event is. Why couldn't they discuss with the opposition party beforehand? Why did they decide what to do only by themselves? If seven million votes show public opinion, how can you say five million votes do not show public opinion?
Even if we decide that the majority rules, it does not mean that the majority should ignore the opinions of the minority and do whatever they want. Besides, the so-called minority is not a small number, and the so-called majority is not a very large number. In addition, people who voted for you may not agree to draw close to China in such a rapid pace.

At the end of the day, obs concluded that:

在這樣的時刻,重要的不是國旗、不是標語,甚至圍不圍城也已無關緊要。
 但,相信民主相信自由相信多元的每個人,都應該以自己的方式發聲。
 一個警棍伺候的城市,不會有和解。
 一個哀傷死寂的社會,不會有進步。
 一個人民不再吶喊的國度,不會有明天。
 不為任何政黨,不為任何人,此刻我們應該為自己說話。

At this moment, what is important is not the national flag, not the the slogans, even not besieging the city.
What is important is that everyone who believes democracy, freedom, and diversity should voice in our own way.
There will be no peace if the city is monitored by the policemen's rods.
There will be no progress is the society is sad and silent.
There will be no tomorrow if citizens in the country stop shouting.
Not for any political party. Not for anyone. This is the moment that we should voice for ourselves.

confrontation
Photo courtesy of avant.

9 comments

  • In a week where there were a lot of negatives, the most positive thing I saw was that many Taiwanese people actively sought to use nonviolent methods of protest. At the Jingfu Gate on 11/6 people stood between the police and angry protesters and calmed the situation down. At the Grand Hotel on 11/5 I saw 14 spontaneously begin a sit down protest in front of the police. They all agreed between themselves to use nonviolence to resist the police. These were just ordinary people acting without directions from any leaders.

  • […] steps that are overaccomodating toward the Chinese delegation. Specifically, recently they granted protestors permission after a long petition process, but then moved the meeting that they are protesting to a […]

  • I have the feeling that many see street protests as something bad. But the opposite is true. It’s an important element of expression in democratic societies. And violence of a few can never be an excuse to take the rights of the others.
    A democracy without demonstrations is no democracy.

  • […] Chen Yinlin in Taipei — Massenproteste gegen Annäherung zwischen TW und China (link: At the Protest Frontline) […]

  • […] View post: Global Voices Online » Taiwan: At the Protest Frontline […]

  • it

    i don’t like you for you are not cool in mind. I Support Ma.

  • ifan

    Thanks David.

    You showed how cool the protesters were. I admire you!

  • James Lin

    Freedom of speech and assembly are God-given human rights as long as peaceful. The government should not have sent riot police to use excessive force to interrupt peaceful demonstration, to beat up harmless journalists and citizens, to forbid people to wave national flags, to create resentment and alienate the people. Only authoritarian regime will resort to such brutal oppression and persecution to silence the legitimate discontent of its people.

  • […] (南方電子報) 3. 台灣野草莓的前後 (香港獨立媒體) 4. Taiwan: At the Protest Frontline (Global Voices) 5. TaiwanL Students Demand to Revise the Parade and Assembly Law (Global […]

Join the conversation

Authors, please log in »

Guidelines

  • All comments are reviewed by a moderator. Do not submit your comment more than once or it may be identified as spam.
  • Please treat others with respect. Comments containing hate speech, obscenity, and personal attacks will not be approved.