Green Island experience

I participated in a “Human Rights Camp” on Green Island from 19-22 July. The article that follows are my thoughts after returning.

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When the boat arrived at Green Island (綠島) my first impression was that the island was incredibly green, verdant, a rich tropical paradise. Most people come to the island for a holiday, but I was here to join the “Human Rights Camp” (綠島人權之路青年營) along with sixty other students and a group of teachers and former political prisoners. It was a different experience of Green Island, but it was incredible and something I will never forget. Continue reading

No nukes for Taitung

The TITV report* in the video embedded above is about a protest against nuclear waste in Taitung held at Ximending in Taipei on 28 June. The government of Taiwan is seeking to relocate the nuclear waste currently stored on Orchid Island to a new location. A report in the Taipei Times provides a good summary of the situation.

The Taiwan Power Co (Taipower Co) announced in April that Daren Township (達仁) in Taitung County was one of two candidate locations for a nuclear waste storage facility.

As a vast majority of residents, county officials, councilors and political leaders from the other site in Wangan Township (望安), Penghu County, voiced strong opposition to the plan, many have come to believe that Daren — a traditional domain of the Paiwan tribe — will be selected.

Some of Daren’s residents, including the township mayor, support the plan, hoping that a promised NT$5 billion (US$151 million) payment would help resolve poverty, while others oppose it because of worries that such a facility would destroy the environment.

Please read the article I wrote a couple of years ago about the search for a nuclear waste storage site in Taiwan. As I said in that article, it is no accident that nuclear waste is imposed on the poorest and most marginalised communities. The pattern of buying off people with promises of infrastructure and jobs continues.

The process of developing a nuclear waste storage site also shows a frightening disregard for democratic process. In December the Presbyterian Church reported that the government was spying on church activities in Taitung. In particular government authorities made enquiries about church activities opposed to nuclear waste. At a public hearing on nuclear waste storage in Taitung in April two environmental activists were illegally detained by police for two hours to prevent them from protesting or speaking at the meeting.

I offer no solutions to the intractable problem of nuclear waste storage. The continuing presence of nuclear waste on Orchid Island is an abomination. The relocation of the waste to another indigenous community on the mainland is also unacceptable. How can governments allow the construction of nuclear power plants when they have no clear plan for the long-term storage of nuclear waste?

*The video comes from TITV Weekly produced by Taiwan Indigenous Television (台灣原住民電視台). The English language program can be viewed via its YouTube Channel. It is a good source of news about issues affecting indigenous peoples in Taiwan.