Today ARATS Chairman Chen Yunlin (陳雲林) arrived in Taiwan via a flight from Beijing. Around 11 o’clock this morning I went to Zhongshan North Road near the Grand Hotel to observe and record some of the happenings. Police lined the road and prevented people from accessing the hotel grounds.
Media and a handful of protestors gathered around the corner of Zhongshan North Road and Tonghe Road. There were about ten to fifteen people wearing t-shirts with pro-Taiwan slogans and carrying orange balloons printed with the words “Taiwan is my country”. Occasionally they shouted, “The Communist bandits have come!” Police made no attempt to disperse them even though they could have done so using Taiwan’s Parade and Assembly Law. However, they did prevent them from moving any closer to the Grand Hotel area.
The photos that follow help document some of the incidents and happenings during the few hours I was there.
This truck drove past broadcasting anti-Communist songs from the 1950s. The slogan on the side of the truck means “Demand sovereignty, defend Taiwan”. Many people find it ironic that the KMT was once rabidly anti-communist yet now seeks to rush into the Chinese Communist Party’s arms.
There was quite a scene as a man entered the area carrying a long fishing pole. There were two small signs dangling from the end of it. One was a dog with the label Ma Ying-X and the other a slogan about betraying the country. He was surrounded by police and media and moved to the side of the road after some discussions.
A black car emblazoned with “Communist Party” in red characters was quickly stopped by police. Two men in the car claimed to represent the Taiwan Communist Party. After police moved them to the side of the road they gave interviews to the media and also unfurled a banner saying, “Taiwan Communist Party welcomes ARATS Chairman Chen Yunlin to Taiwan”.
A shower of rain sent everybody, including the police, running for cover. Once the police put on their raincoats they went back out to line the road.
This car drove past flying the ROC flag. I didn’t have time to catch the what the other signs on the car said. Police didn’t stop the vehicle, perhaps because it was already travelling away from the hotel.
This man had made quite a costume covered in slogans saying “Oppose Chinese Communist bandits” and “Make Taiwan an independent country”. (Check the photo at flickr which has notes with translations of the slogans.)
I was told police were not allowing anyone to display the ROC flag, but didn’t actually see them confiscating flags. And as pictured above at least one car drove past flying the ROC flag. An article in the Taiwan News notes several incidents where police tried to stop people displaying the flag. This lady found a way to protest by stealth with the ROC flag on her umbrella.
I use the term ROC flag above because the national flag of Taiwan is the symbol of a colonial regime. Taiwan doesn’t officially have a flag that it can truly call its own. Even the ROC flag is banned at many international events. The lady in the photo above is waving the flag of the World Taiwanese Congress.
A member of Falun Dafa (法輪大法), also known as Falun Gong, sat and quietly meditated.
What I saw was only a small snapshot of the events of the day. Memories of Past Tense reports on another incident where police used violence against some protestors who were waving Tibetan and ROC flags.
The actions of police can be considered as an attack on freedom of speech. Although they might seem like minor incidents they are part of a pattern which is making people afraid to speak out and protest. Nobody (in the area I was at) was arrested or assaulted so it might be a little extreme to claim Taiwan has returned to the days of martial law or White Terror. However, the Ma government is slowly undermining the foundations of democracy and civil society. Now is a moment when Taiwanese must speak out and make their voices heard.
*More photos in the protests against Chen Yunlin set at flickr. I will add more photos to the set during the week.