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Taiwan: Rice fields outside the Presidential Office

On July 18th, Taiwanese farmers turned the grand boulevard in front of the Presidential Office into rice fields to protest against the Land Expropriation Act.

On June 9th, 20 excavators were sent to take over 28 hectares of rice field in Dapu Borough (大埔), a farming village, to make way for the expansion of Jhunan Science Park. Similar land expropriation stories were heard in other counties.

Some farmers and activists in Dapu pointed out that the land expropriation was illegal and filed an application with the Ministry of the Interior (MOI) to void permission for Miaoli County Government to take over farmland on July 17. At night, they protest in front of the Presidential Office, and residents who are facing a similar situation in Houlong Township (後龍), Miaoli County, Erlin Township (二林), Changhua County, Jhudong (竹東) Township and Jhubei (竹北) City in Hsinchu County and Tucheng City (土城), Taipei County joined in.

After the overnight sit-in, thousands of farmers and activists paved the Ketagalan Boulevard with rice shoots, turned the concrete ground into green field and presented to the public the beauty of agriculture.

The rice seedlings were shipped directly from the farm fields.
rice siddlings shipped
Photo courtesy of Edd Jhong.

The farmers started to pave the rice seedlings outside the Presidential building.
planting rice seedlings
Photo courtesy of Edd Jhong.

The Ketagalan Boulevard was transformed into a green field.
finish transformation
Photo courtesy of Edd Jhong.

Ai-Wen Chen (陳藹文), a supporter who joined the overnight protest, explained why she joined the protest.

自從在網路上看到怪手開進農田強行「整地」的那一幕,我就開始擔心,會不會有一天,我家的地也這樣,可能爲了「開發」二字,我就必須獻出,不管我願不願意。這真的不是錢的問題,是我覺得我們應該被尊重。

When I saw the image of excavators rampaging in the rice fields, I started to worry that maybe someday my land will face the same threat. Maybe I will be asked to give up my land no matter I like it or not because of ‘development.’ This is not a matter of money. I think we deserve some respect.

我來到這兒參加守夜行動,夜宿凱達格蘭大道,這次的大會師才知道,原來,受害的不只是農民與農地,許多人的居住地、一些古蹟建築的所在地,都同樣被霸王硬 上弓,為了捷運、為了高鐵、為了科學園區、為了工業區…等「開發」的好理由,一個土地徵收條例,所有人都只能用抗爭來表達不願意。只能用抗爭來表達不願意,是我們尊嚴的二度喪失。

I joined the overnight protest and slept on the Ketagalan Boulevard. After talking to other protesters, I learned that not only these farmers’ rice fields, but also some people’s houses and historical buildings were forced to torn down because of the metro, high-speed rail, science parks, industrial parks, etc. Because of ‘development’ and the Land Expropriation Act, what we can do is coming here to protest. When we need to protest to show our objection, we lose our dignity again.

Are you curious about the fate of these rice seedlings?

這些秧苗被在場農民命名為「凱稻」已在行動結束後,被移到台灣各地農村播種,象徵農村生生不息。

These rice seedlings were named ‘Ke-rice’ (its pronunciation in Chinese is the same as the nickname of Ketagalan Boulevard) by the farmers. They were moved and planted in villages across the island to symbolize the never ending cycle of life in rural Taiwan.

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