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.

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.


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.

Photo courtesy of judie.

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


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.


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:


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.

Photo courtesy of judie.

Photo courtesy of judie.

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


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.


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:


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.


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:


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.

Photo courtesy of avant.


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