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Taiwan: The government could not wait to harvest wild strawberries

The forced eviction of Wild Strawberries Movement at the Freedom Square this morning (Dec 11), just a few hours after the International Human Rights Day, shows the Taiwan government's hypocrisy in the implementation of human rights .

On International Human Rights Day (12/10), Taiwan President Ma Ying-jeou asked the Legislature to give endorsement to two international human rights documents (the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights) to help implement human rights protection in Taiwan. The speech was made in Asian Democracy and Human Rights Award, an annual event organized by the Taiwan Foundation for Democracy.

However, four hours after the International Human Rights Day, police surrounded the protesters gathering in the Freedom Square and forced them to leave, including the student sit-in (Wild Strawberry Movement) and Taiwan Friends of Tibet.

The students has protested police brutality during Chen Yun-lin (陳雲林)'s visit to Taiwan and asked to revise the Parade and Assembly Law since 11/6. More students advocated this protest and started sit-in in Hsinchu, Taichung, Chia-Yi, Tainan, and Kaohsiung.

monika joined the sit-in and told her parents

老師們也都連署聲援學生的訴求,加入廣場上的靜坐,我們一起討論著人權的概念、討論甚麼叫做暴力、自由,我們對於台灣社會都有著美好圖像的期待。我們渴望一個自由、民主成熟的公民社會,這個社會人人可以理性和平地表達意見,人與人能夠互相尊重、聆聽不同的意見,前提就在於我們必須肯認言論自由作為憲法的最高價值在公民社會的落實。於是我們選擇坐在那裏,表達我們的意見,也渴望被理解、被聽見。

Our professors signed the petition to support the students and joined the sit-in. We discuss the concept of human rights and what is violence and freedom. We all have a bright vision for Taiwan society. We yearn for a civil society embracing freedom and mature democracy. In this society, we can convey our opinions rationally and peacefully. In this society, we respect each other and listen to different opinions. The presupposition of this civil society is to recognize that freedom of speech is the highest value and protected by the Constitution. As a result, we choose to sit there, express our thoughts, and hope to be understood and heard.

https://globalvoicesonline.org/wp-content/uploads/2008/12/strawberrydiscuss.jpg
Photo courtesy of oj

These sit-in students called their protest as “Wild Strawberry Movement.” sabinasun went to the sit-in and was amazed by what she saw:

這回野草莓有許多結合科技和創意的表現,包括自寫自唱〈野草莓之歌〉,靈活運用網路科技做現場雙語即時轉播,豐富多樣的街頭劇場表演,把抗議當作遊戲,把口號變成體操,甚至把一個本來是負面意義的「草莓」以KUSO形式轉變為自我認同符碼等。這一代的養成雖像草莓般稚嫩,但看著學著解嚴後公民社會各式各樣的街頭組織和集體行動,也意外早熟地蔓生起來。

These “wild strawberries” combine technology and creativity, including writing and singing their own “Song for Wild Strawberries,” using internet technology to broadcast their activities bilingually, and holding diverse theater performance on street. They transform protest to games and transform slogans to sports. They even transform the word “strawberry,” which originally has a negative meaning, to self-identification in a funny way. These young and tender students are raised like strawberries, but they grow up and spread out when they see and learn the activists’ organizations and actions after the martial law was abolished, out of our surprise.

During students’ sit-in, other protesters joined them, including original inhabitants of Sanying Aboriginal Community who were forcibly moved away from their homes. When police arrived at the Freedom Square at 3am on 12/11, about 100 Tibetans from Taiwan Friends of Tibet were also there to protest about their legal identity.

wenli received a phone call soon after the policemen surrounded the protesters.

當我到達自由廣場時,第一批被驅離的圖博之友會人士,已經被全部載上警備車。警方刻意將這些大多不熟悉台北路況的圖博人,在深夜裡載往大湖公園或關渡等地「二次流亡」。圖博人沒有抵抗,只有懂得中文的人絕望地呼喊「馬英九總統,救救圖博」。後來在現場警察的說法:「如果不是你們(指野草莓)幫助他們,我們也不會去抬他們(指圖博人士)!」,也明示了野草莓運動與圖博訴求的結合,是今晨展開鎮壓行動的主因之一。

除了現場大約還有二三十名學生,以廣場地標草莓塔為中心,被數百名警察四面包圍之外,帳篷與物資堆積處已經被拆除,物資也散落一地。沒有被包圍住的學生,急迫地將重要的物資如發電機和電腦等等撤離到外圍路邊。而大部分的佈置物不是被卡車拖走,便是雜亂地堆積在一起等待清潔隊來處理。零星的學生一個個地將可用 的物資盡量地搶救出來。

When I arrived at the Freedom Square, people from Taiwan Friends of Tibet were already brought away by the police trucks. The police “exiled” these Tibetans, who are not familiar with the geography of Taipei, to DaHu Park or GuanDu. Those Tibetans did not resist. Only some of them who speak Chinese called out “President Ma Ying-jeou, save Tibet.” Later, some policemen on the Freedom Squares told the sit-in students, “if you (Wild Strawberries) did not help them, we would not remove them (Tibetans)!” Their words tell us explicitly that the collaboration between the Wild Strawberry Movement and Tibetans is one important reason for the police to take this repression action this morning.

Hundreds of policemen surrounded 20-30 students gathering around the Strawberry Tower, the landmark there. Beside them, tents and the shelters for supplies were torn down, and some supplies fell on the floor. Some students, who were not surrounded by the policemen, tried to move some important supplies, e.g. generators and computers, to roadside. Most decorations were brought away by trucks or left on the floor and waited for the cleaners. Some students tried their best to rescue useful materials.

https://globalvoicesonline.org/wp-content/uploads/2008/12/1211move.png
Photo courtesy of action1106

Students who were brought away from the Freedom Square came back three hours later. Some Tibetans who were brought away also came back later, and Taiwan Friends of Tibet is trying to find others. wenli said,

或許政府可以將草莓塔化為一捆竹竿和布條堆積而成的瓦礫;或許警察可以將帳篷解體成鐵條和帆布的殘餘;或許這些物質上的損失,會成為現場指揮官升遷敘獎的依據;但是,野草莓運動本身沒有受到任何傷害,反而會因為這次卑劣的夜襲行為,而更加凝聚了運動的向心力。因為,人的精神和尊嚴,才是學生們運動的主體,而這是不可能通過物理手段加以損毀的。

Maybe the government can tear down the Strawberry Tower and leave piles of bamboos and banners; maybe the police can take apart the tents and leave piles of iron columns and canvas; maybe these material damage will be the evidence for the police commander's next promotion; However, the Wild Strawberry Movement is not hurt at all. On the contrast, this movement will gain stronger centripetal force because of this despicable midnight attack. The soul of this students’ protest is human spirit and dignity, which will not be hurt through physical means.

附帶一提,警方驅離的理由之一,是以交通法規將 野草莓運動視為路障來處理。然而,幾個小時當中,真正行駛在廣場上的車輛,也只有警方清運的卡車而已。對這個在世界人權日結束後四小時,便扯下偽善面具, 露出猙獰面目的政權來說,人權不過是形同具文的兩個字而已。它可以用於光鮮亮麗的頒獎典禮上,卻不允許在公共的廣場上被呼喊。

By the way, one of the reasons for this police action is cleaning the roadblack, i.e., the Wild Strawberry Movement, based on the Traffic Law. However, for hours, only the trucks instructed by the police ran on the square.

To the government who took down its hypocritical mask and showed us its ferocious look four hours after the International Human Rights Day, human rights are only two words without any meaning. These two words are allowed to be used in a fabulous award ceremony but not allowed to be called out on a public square.

4 comments

  • I just want to report that the Wild Strawberries and the Tibetans have returned to Freedom Square. About 30 students stayed at the Square overnight (11-12 Dec). The police prevented the students from putting up tents, but otherwise there were no incidents.

  • Thank David for keep caring about this, and nice to meet you on the square!

  • ifan

    Thanks David’s update. I was worried about the Tibetans brought away by the police, and I am glad to hear that they are safe ^^
    Hope their problems about legal identification can be solved as soon as possible.

  • […] Yoshi looked back on the Wild Strawberry Movement in 2008, he saw that “students were incapable of supporting a long-term social […]

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