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Strawberry generation stands up

Taiwan’s twenty-somethings were labelled the “Strawberry generation” by their elders. They said they were soft and couldn’t stand up to pressure. However, the new student movement that has emerged in the wake of Chen Yunlin’s visit to Taiwan is anything but soft and weak. Taiwan’s youth are standing up for themselves and speaking out against the government’s abuses of power.

The students’ protest began on 6 November outside the Executive Yuan in response to the abusive acts of police towards peaceful protestors. In response to events of the previous days the protesters issued a statement with three demands: (1) President Ma and Premier Liu must publicly apologise to all citizens. (2) National Police Agency Director-General Wang Cho-chiun and National Security Bureau Director Tsai Chao-ming must step down. (3) The Legislative Yuan must revise the Parade and Assembly Law, which currently restricts the rights of the people.

On the evening of 7 November police forcefully removed the protesters from the front of the Executive Yuan. Police did this under the powers of the Assembly Law that the students were protesting against. The students then reconvened at Freedom Square (自由廣場) where the protest now continues.

Hsu Zen-shou (許仁碩), a law student at NTU and a spokesperson for the student protest in Taipei explained the protests were unaffilliated with political parties because the issue is about the people not parties. He said, “KMT and DPP are all the same. When I was a freshman I got hit by the DPP government and now I’m getting hit by the KMT government.”

Since Saturday morning the weather in Taipei has been cold and rainy. The students initially found it difficult to hire tents because it was an illegal protest. However, they have continued their protests in spite of the weather and this is symbolic of the students’ determination. “We always feel tired and wet and uncomfortable. But even if it rains cats and dogs we are still here,” Hsu said.

Students are simultaneously protesting in Tainan, Kaohsiung, Xinzhu and Taizhong. Hsu said, “We keep in touch with them via the internet. When something happens they can know immediately. Nobody has done this kind of thing before.”

When asked how long the protest would go on for Hsu responded, “Whether we go back home or not is according to the decision of the people at the protest. We have no leader or leader group and any big decision is made by consensus at a group meeting.”

The students have now adopted the moniker “Wild Strawberry” Student Movement (野草莓學運). The name echoes the Wild Lily Movement (野百合學運) of 1990, a student led protest that led to Taiwan having direct elections. Hsu Zen-shou also said, “wild strawberries are small and grow close to the ground.  They are very strong and never give up.” Taiwan is going to hear a lot more from these students in the future.

*The movement now has an English-language blog, TAIWAN’s Wild Berries Movement, to complement the Chinese-language blog. There are live broadcasts of the protests on Yahoo Live (check the blogs for links). There is flickr group for photos of the Wild Strawberry movement and loads of videos on Youtube. Other Taiwan bloggers writing about the protests include Fili, Michael, Bala Daily, Taiwan Echo and I-fan at Global Voices.

File next to:
Wild Strawberries take to the streets
Wild Strawberries ready for nonviolent action
Human rights under attack in Taiwan
Wild Berry House opening
Police, the law and human rights

Comments

Comment from ifan
Time 12 November 2008 at 5:11 am

David,

I thought students’ sit-in began on Nov 6th (http://blog.roodo.com/judie35/). Is it correct?

Comment from STOP Ma
Time 12 November 2008 at 6:17 am

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As impressive as this protest is, I find that it lacks a lot of leadership. Yesterday was a perfect example. A man lights himself on fire in front of the camp, and the students do nothing except issue a statement on their website. No press conference. No moment of silence in front of the media. Nothing. It makes them look like they are ignoring the tragic event and it also wastes a perfect opportunity for them to get more exposure.

Are there any marketing students at these universities?

Oh, well — I sincerely wish them luck with their cause.
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Comment from David Reid
Time 12 November 2008 at 8:07 am

i-fan, sorry I got the dates confused. It started on 11/6 and they were removed from the front of the Executive Yuan on 11/7. I will correct the post. Thanks for that.

Comment from David Reid
Time 12 November 2008 at 9:44 am

Stop Ma, I can understand that people might find things to be critical of the students’ organization. They might be a little naive politically, but let them find their own way and learn from their mistakes. They are engaged in an ongoing process where the outcomes are uncertain.

Whatever the outcome the result will be many students with a greater understanding of human rights issues, the law, the nature of protest and the political process. They will have the experience to engage in more protests and political battles in the future.

Comment from STOP Ma
Time 12 November 2008 at 12:11 pm

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David,

True enough, although it’s too bad there isn’t more leadership. That’s all I’m saying. And they better learn quickly because they are up against the KMT now.
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Pingback from Taiwan’s Wild Strawberry Generation « Under the Jacaranda Tree
Time 12 November 2008 at 9:51 pm

[...] David on Formosa has written a very good post about this movement with links to other relevant websites. [...]

Comment from andres
Time 13 November 2008 at 12:47 am

david, thanks for the great coverage of these recent events. keep up the great work!

Pingback from Wild Strawberries ready for nonviolent action – David on Formosa
Time 5 December 2008 at 10:54 pm

[...] Wild Strawberry Movement (野草莓學運) began one month ago with a protest at the Executive Yuan. After the protest was [...]

Comment from Donald Errol Knight
Time 7 December 2008 at 6:42 pm

I am very proud of these students…especially their persistence.

Pingback from Wild Strawberries take to the streets – David on Formosa
Time 7 December 2008 at 10:55 pm

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