About 400 people gathered around the house of the Wang family in Taiwan's capital Taipei early in the morning of March 28, 2012, to protect the family against eviction by the police.
A controversial urban renewal project [zh] has made the Wang's house part of the Taipei city government sanctioned renewal zone under the 2008 Urban Renewal Act [zh], which allows the government to forcibly expel citizens from their own house when 80% of their neighbors agree to sell their land to the developer.
More than 20 communities affected
After the new Urban Renewal Act was passed, more than 20 communities have been affected [zh], causing intense conflicts between the homeowners and the construction companies. The affected homeowners together jointly set up the Taiwan Alliance for Victims of Urban Renewal [zh] in May, 2010.
In the Wang's case, the developer Leyoung Construction (樂揚建設), of the urban renewal project involved has collected an agreement signed by 38 out of 40 affected homeowners [zh]. While the majority of the affected households were living in apartment building, the Wang family had two independent houses in the district and Wen-Lin Yuan (文林苑), the head of the Wang refused to sell their family property to the developer. The company then turned to the Taipei city government to evict the family and demolish their houses by force.
Since July 2011, the Taiwan Alliance for Victims of Urban Renewal has been protesting for the Wang family, demanding the the Construction and Planning Agency to revise the Urban Renewal Act. They pointed out [zh] that:
However, the Interior Ministry keeps neglecting the Alliance's demand and the latest conflict arose when the Taipei city government issued the eviction order for the Wang's house on March 19. In reaction to the government's move, the Taiwan Alliance for Victims of Urban Renewal asked their supporters to patrol around the Wang’s house and defend the family against the eviction.
When the Taipei police prepared to forcibly enter the Wang’s house on March 28, hundreds of supporters laid down on the ground in front of it to protect the family. Professor Hua-Chen Liu [zh] was sitting with the Wang family on that day and she described what she saw in the kitchen on the first floor:
在廚房裡的我們，感受到的不是和自己並肩而坐、那種令人興致高昂的同志體溫. 而是兩位老人家，在經歷面臨拆遷的精神折磨，臉上那種無以言喻的表情. 也是兒孫們圍繞著因為犯了高血壓毛病的阿嬤, 輕拍她的肩膀，按摩她的雙臂.
However, despite all their preparations, the police crushed the back door easily and the supporters were taken away by the police. Professor Hua-Chen Liu [zh] described the scene:
進不來的聲援群眾想側拍衝進後門的過程, 都被警察以雨傘和大型帆布遮住，無從看到. 一大群警察直接衝過來，沒有人掛名牌. 沒有人解釋基於什麼理由要拖走我們, 沒有任何前言後話，就是動手！
The site had been sealed and the police stopped reporters and citizens from making any record of the demolition process. Media Watch Taiwan [zh] posted an eyewitness report:
When the police officers entered the Wang's houses, Ping-Yao Li was on the second floor [zh]:
After the eviction, professor Hua-Chen Liu reflected [zh] on the brutal process:
我不明白失去自己的家是什麼意思. 非常疲憊、很想睡覺的我，在這個陽光殘酷得白花花的早上, 可以坐上計程車，20分鐘後從口袋摸出鑰匙, 洗個安慰疼痛肌肉的熱水澡.
警察拉人的過程裡，他們一直要學生小心，「不要受傷」. 優勢警力把人肉沙包和他們的家俱一件件往外丟時. 他們只來得及抱著父母的遺照和祖先牌位逃出來.
But how about the Wangs?
When the police officers dragged the supporters away, the Wangs kept reminding the students to be careful and ‘don't get hurt.’ When the police threw the supporters and their furniture out of their house, they only had time to grab the photos of their deceased parents and their ancestral tablets with them.
Where are they going to sleep tonight? Where will they stay tomorrow?
Under the devil’s talon of the so-called urban renewal, can we be certain where we will be ending up tomorrow?