About 500 members of the Taiwanese community rallied outside the State Library in Melbourne yesterday. The rally was part of a worldwide action with other events taking place in major cities of Australia, Europe, Asia and North America to show solidarity with Taiwan’s Sunflower Movement.
At the same time as the event in Melbourne a crowd estimated at 350,000 was turning out in Taipei. This represented a massive show of public support for the student-led Sunflower Movement which has occupied the Legislative Yuan in Taipei since 18 March. The movement’s key aim is to ensure that the Cross-Strait Service and Trade Agreement (CSSTA) and other agreements with China are subject to proper scrutiny by the legislature.
The rally in Melbourne focused on three key demands: protecting Taiwan’s democracy and opposing state violence and the black box trade agreement. It featured speeches, singing, the chanting of slogans and numerous photo opportunities. Most of the rally was conducted in Mandarin. Its main purpose seemed to be uniting the Taiwanese community rather than putting pressure on the Australian government or educating the Australian public.
The crowd was overwhelmingly young and dressed in black. Signs in Chinese and English had slogans centred around the three demands. Party political symbols were notably absent and I only spotted one sign criticising President Ma Ying-jeou. An astute observer in the crowd noted that this issue had defined the identity of a generation. This generation is not riven by the partisan and ethnic divides of the older generations. Instead it is united around support for democracy and good governance in Taiwan.
Some other notable features of this movement have been an unwavering commitment to achieving its goals and excellent communications through social media. While the outcome of the ongoing occupation of Taiwan’s Legislative Yuan is still not certain, it is clear this movement has set the standard for all that will follow in its footsteps.
*More photos of the rally at Demotix.