Green Party protests to save tree

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Green Party candidate for the Taipei City No. 6 District by-election, Calvin Wen (溫炳原), spent 26 hours in a camphor tree on the site of the Old Songshan Tobacco Factory (松山菸廠) in Taipei to protest and prevent its removal.

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The protest began on Friday afternoon as Green Party Taiwan members discovered the last tree was about to be removed. Calvin was able to climb the tree with assistance from several other Green Party members who were  then removed from the site by police. An agreement was later reached with police to allow four people to accompany Calvin at the base of the tree. The Green Party argued that the removal of the tree was illegal as the the second environmental impact assessment for the site had not yet passed. Continue reading

Tibetans not celebrating New Year

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Today marks the start of Losar, the Tibetan New Year. However, this year there are none of the usual celebrations. In memory of the hundreds of Tibetan people that died during protests last March, Tibetans both inside and outside of Tibet have decided not to celebrate the New Year with the usual festivities.

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Several hundred Tibetans and supporters gathered at Freedom Square in Taipei tonight to mark the occasion. A large Tibetan flag was laid on the ground surrounded with candles. Candles were also lit spelling out “No Losar”. A documentary about the 2008 protests in Tibet was screened. Continue reading

Artists support PTS

A group of artists joined together in Taipei today to express their support for Taiwan’s Public Television Service (PTS; 公共電視). The event at Freedom Square brought together film makers, musicians, writers and artists who all put their name to a petition to protest against the Legislative Yuan freezing part of PTS’s annual budget. I detailed this in my report of the 1 January rally for PTS.

A veritable who’s who of the arts community in Taiwan participated in the event. Wei Te-sheng (魏德聖), director of Cape No. 7, is pictured above. Some other well known Taiwanese film makers were present including Tsai Ming-liang (蔡明亮), Lin Jing-jie (林靖傑) and Hung Hung (鴻鴻). Musicians included Doris of ChthoniC and members of Aphasia and Kou Chou Ching (拷秋勤). Continue reading

Rally for PTS in Taipei

Thousands of people joined a rally in support of PTS (公共電視), Taiwan’s Public Television Service, in Taipei today. The rally was organised by the National Association for the Promotion of Community Universities, Media Watch and Citizen Congress Watch. There was additional participation by dozens of NGOs and community groups. Continue reading

Police, the law and human rights

Police take away the “Democracy classroom” on Christmas Eve in Taipei City

A letter I wrote about police and human rights was published in the Taipei Times today.

In the letter I mention that I have witnessed incidents before and after Chen Yunlin’s visit. The incident before was at the Car Free Day activity in Taipei County on 20 September. The main incident after was on Christmas Eve in Taipei City. Students from the Wild Strawberry Movement were involved in an incident with police from the Zhongzheng No. 2 Police Station (中正第二分局). I have not written about this on my blog but you can see some photos at flickr. Reports in Chinese of the events of that day can be found on the Wild Strawberry Movement’s blog and on page A5 of the Liberty Times (自由時報), 25 December 2008. The Taipei Times also reported on 26 December that the Wild Strawberries plan to take legal action against the police in relation to the incident.

Sounds of freedom

A Tibet Freedom Concert was held at Da’an Park in Taipei on Human Rights Day. The concert was headlined by Tibetan folk musician Techung and also included videos and speeches about human rights and the situation in Tibet.

SFT Executive Director Lhadon Tethong spoke about the importance of the Tibetans struggle for freedom and human rights. She thanked the Taiwanese people for the support they have given the Tibetan people. She expressed the hope that the Taiwanese people would not lose their freedom like the Tibetans had lost theirs. Lhadon is currently on a speaking tour visiting university campuses in Taiwan. NCCU Professor Sun Da-chuan spoke about the situation of indigenous peoples in Taiwan. Continue reading

Wild Strawberries take to the streets

Over the past month the Wild Strawberry movement (野草莓學運) has attracted support from a wide cross section of Taiwanese society. Dressed in black t-shirts and sporting pink headbands, students and supporters converged at Freedom Square for a march through the streets of Taipei today. Originally a thousand people were expected to participate, however the crowd exceeded that number by many times#.

The protest assembled at Freedom Square were students spoke about the attacks on human rights that led to the protest action. Protesters arranged in groups with students taking the lead, followed by university professors, NGOs and the general public. The protest began marching north along Zhongshan Road. Continue reading

1206 climate change action in Taipei

The 1206 climate change action was held in Taipei today. It was part of an international day of action on climate change. The action is timed to coincide with the UNFCCC climate talks in Poznan, Poland. I also participated in the 2006 and 2007 actions in Taipei.

This year the action began at Freedom Square (自由廣場) where people gathered for a march. Last year about three thousand people marched, but this year the numbers were down to less than a thousand. Climate change is an issue which gets little attention in Taiwan and perhaps Taiwanese are too consumed by other issues at the moment to get involved in action against climate change. Still a large number of environmental groups were involved including the Green Party, Society of Wilderness and the Homemaker’s Union and Foundation. There were also several groups opposing local development projects. Continue reading