517: DPP reclaim the streets

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Hundreds of thousands# of people took to the streets of Taipei and Kaohsiung today for the DPP’s 517 rally. The rally marked the one year anniversary of President Ma Ying-jeou taking office. During this time there has been the financial crisis, rising unemployment and concerns that closer ties to China were at the expense of Taiwan’s sovereignty. The event had four themes: safeguarding sovereignty, referendum on ECFA, help for the unemployed and assisting the disadvantaged.

In the days before the protest the DPP created an English language blog (perhaps in response to this criticism). A translation of Tsai Ing-wen’s open letter on the blog provides a clear and eloquent explanation of the rationale for the march. Sometimes the slogans are overly simplistic and don’t fully communicate the issues.
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I joined the Taipei rally with Darren. There was already lots of people outside the exit of the Gongguan MRT. A variety of groups gathered at NTU which was one of four starting points for the marches in Taipei. The groups included GUTS United (逆轉本部), although their leader Freddy Lim joined the march in Kaohsiung.

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This lady proudly waves two flags.

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This person is carrying a sign saying “Chinese students come to Taiwan, Taiwan students jump in the sea”  (陸生來台,台生跳海).

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This sign needs no translation.

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This lady hits a horse. President Ma’s name also means horse which lends itself to a lot of jokes.

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The Presbyterian Church had a strong presence at the march.

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We arrived on Ketagalan Boulevard around five o’clock. There was a huge crowd and there were big screens set up on the Jingfu Gate for the crowd who spilled out onto Zhongshan Road. At around 5:45 DPP Chairperson Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文), former Premiers Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) and Frank Hsieh (謝長廷) and others took to the stage. At six o’clock Tsai Ing-wen addressed the crowd. She said that it was important to resist China and ensure that Taiwanese controlled their future. Without democracy there would be no human rights. (Update: an English translation of Tsai’s speech is available on the DPP blog.)

During the protest I sent some live tweets to twitter. Others also tweeted about the protest, some using the hashtag #517. Here is a selection of tweets:

vshchen #517 Why Idiot Ma still wants to open Taiwan’s labor market when Taiwan’s unemployment is so high? http://twitpic.com/5crye

spotlessmind10 Hope 517 protest would end peacefully. so sick of politics! It’s nothing abt which party u support. It’s abt what’s right 4 da country!

JuleSuga #517 Proud to be Taiwanese! Taiwan Go! Go! Go!

ilya In the parade of 517, so moved when white flagged Presbyterian Church, and purple flagged Taiwan Soul / Taitung Defending Team passed by.

TimMaddog Hau Lung-bin imagines that only 40,000 people attended today’s protest. http://tinyurl.com/o7ymsm I *bumped into* at least 40,000 people!

There was an incident were a police car hit two protesters as they were leaving the protest in Taipei. Two men were seriously injured. Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-bin is scheduled to hold a press conference tonight and more details should be reported in the media tomorrow.

The DPP is continuing the protest overnight and tomorrow with a 24 hour sit in on Ketagalan Boulevard. The sit in is a non-violent protest against the proposed amendments to the Parade and Assembly Law.

*More photos in the 517 DPP protest set at flickr. Also see the DPP group at flickr for more photos.

#Estimates of the crowd vary wildly. This report says, “While the DPP said more than 600,000 joined in the protest, police estimated the number at no more than 100,000.” The actual number probably lies somewhere in between. On SET TV’s Talking Show they are saying that the crowd was bigger than last year’s 1025 protest. The combined crowds in Taipei and Kaohsiung would certainly add up to hundreds of thousands.

7 thoughts on “517: DPP reclaim the streets

  1. People seem to forget very fast, e.g. DPP’s Swiss bank accounts, etc, etc.
    President Ma is on the right way. If people don’t like it, they can vote in few years against it.
    That’s democracy.

  2. Alex, the good thing about democracy is that it allows people to freely express their opinions when they disagree with the government. Yes, people will have to wait a few years before they have the chance to vote Ma out, but in the mean time they can still protest and raise their concerns.

    Fili, yes it was impressive and peaceful!

  3. Go Taiwanese! I’m proud of you, just wish I could be there to join you! If this does not remove Ma from office, at least gives him a warning that people are unhappy with his policies so it’s time to listen to people, not just being a Chinese puppet emperor.

    To Alex, don’ forget the money KMT has robbed from Taiwanese people for decades, still stored in Singapore. Why don’t they return it to the people?

  4. Dear David,

    Actually, the DPP blog was conceived before Echo wrote the post on her blog. 🙂

  5. I was on both days there. I think the participation and anger was great this time.
    But still the DPP didn’t attack the KMT on basic grounds (like social justice, environment issues, or an improve of international residences in Taiwan).

    I saw a lot of new groups and organizations there. I guess if the DPP (similar to the ANC) oversleeps their chances and potential, new parties will replace them and for sure it won’t be the TSU!
    I think Ma is a very constitutional correct president and that’s the root of many problems (the exile government of the ROC on Taiwan). Well, Ma couldn’t do anything without the AIT, but no Taiwanese in my life time will stand up at any American institution demands his rights.
    I think Krugman showed it very obvious what Ma and the US want. A jumping board for investments into China.

    I personally think Taiwanese would be much better off without the Taiwan Relations Act. At least international voices suddenly would become more important and Taiwanese would more depend on themself than relay on the US and its armed forces.

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