Taiwanese community in Melbourne shows support for Sunflower Movement

330 action in Melbourne in support of Taiwan's Sunflower Movement

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. Continue reading

Smangus documentary to screen on PTS

Smangus: A Year in the Clouds, a documentary about the Atayal community of Smangus, will screen on Taiwan’s Public Television Service (PTS) tonight (30 June). The documentary had its premiere in Smangus on Tuesday night. It is a co-production between PTS and British documentary makers Dean Johnson and Frank Smith. The team filmed various aspects of the daily life in Smangus over a period of 15 months.

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ChthoniC release new MV — TAKAO

ChthoniC have released a music video for their new single “TAKAO” (皇軍). The single is from their new album which is scheduled for release in August July. The video was directed by Vince Chuang (莊志文) who has directed other videos for ChthoniC including “49 Theurgy Chains“.

The video and song is about Taiwanese soldiers who fought for Japan in World War II. Some of these soldiers were indigenous people who were known as the Takasago Volunteers. Their story is the theme of ChthoniC’s forthcoming album. The video includes an 80 year old Atayal man whose father fought for Japan in Southeast Asia.

The song also features the voice of DPP legislator Yu Tien (余天). In a post on Facebook ChthoniC bass player Doris Yeh said, “Yu Tien’s voice perfectly provides the passionate vibe of the song.”

The Chinese name of the song means “Japanese Imperial Army” but the English name is “Takao”. This is the old Hoklo Taiwanese name for Kaohsiung, which was the harbor that soldiers departed from to join the war. Doris said, “This is a way of letting the fans around the world know Kaohsiung.”

The single is being released in Europe by Spinefarm Records. It includes a bonus track with Finnish metal band Ensiferum singing the chorus of “Takao” in English.

John Seed in Jianshi and Smangus

Atayal artist Yawi

After travelling through central and southern Taiwan the next part of John Seed’s trip spent a few days in Jianshi Township of Hsinchu County. The photo above shows the Atayal artist Yawi. He has a studio up in the mountains and he kindly showed us around. His artworks have been purchased by the former Vice President Annette Lu and the current First Lady Chow Mei-ching.

Ginger cultivation in Jianshi

We also went to see the area where ginger is being cultivated in Tianshui. This is another important local environmental issue. The ginger growing is done by outsiders who come in and rent or buy the land, usually via dubious legal methods. The cultivation is being done on slopes which are steeper than the legal limit. The extensive clearing and disturbance of the soil creates a significant risk of a landslide. The growers exploit the land for short term profits while the local residents have to live with the effects of environmental degradation and risk of landslides. Continue reading

226 incident must be investigated

On the evening of 26 February a group of Taiwanese university students in Taipei went out to show their support for the Jasmine Revolution in China. While attempting to cross the road they were blocked from crossing by a group of plain-clothes people claiming to be police officers. The video embedded above shows the incident. The Taipei Times has also reported on the incident.

The students involved in the incident have established the “226 Students Self-Help Group” (226學生自救小組) and have created a blog, Facebook page and YouTube channel. I have translated the description of the event from the 226 students’ blog below. Continue reading

Youth can change Taiwan!

My recent letter in the Taipei Times ended by saying that youth must speak out to protect freedom in Taiwan. After I posted a link to my letter on Facebook Michael Turton commented that the youth also need to vote.

It seems very timely that the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) just released a campaign video featuring rapper Dog G (大支) titled “Change Taiwan” (改變台灣). The DPP writes in the description of Dog G’s video that they want youth to actively participate in and contribute their ideas to the election campaign. They go on to write, “the DPP wants to promote an overall increase in the youth vote. It is not just concerned with the overall breakdown of votes between the parties. The key point is that youth should play a key role in this election!” Continue reading

Film festival to promote dialogue on death penalty issue

The Murder by Numbers Film Festival  (殺人影展3:亞洲與世界的對話), featuring films and documentaries on the theme of the death penalty, is on from 8-10 October in Taipei. It will be followed by screenings in Hsinchu and on university campuses later in the month. The festival coincides with the World Day Against the Death Penalty on 10 October.

The festival is the third to be organised by the Taiwan Alliance to End the Death Penalty (台灣廢除死刑推動聯盟). The first festival was held in 2004 and the second in 2007. The theme of the third festival is a dialogue between Asia and the world. Asia is one of the regions of the world where the death penalty is most frequently carried out. Taiwan had an unofficial moratorium on the death penalty from December 2005 until April this year when four prisoners were executed. These executions again brought the death penalty debate into the spotlight and showed that Taiwanese society is deeply divided on the issue. Events like this film festival provide an important opportunity for people to engage in dialogue about the death penalty issue. Continue reading

Exclaim! TV reports on Taiwan’s indie music scene

Exclaim! TV from Canada visited Taiwan in April this year to report on Taiwan’s burgeoning indie music scene. They attended Spring Scream (春天吶喊) and also checked out live venues in Taipei. A five-part series of videos documenting Taiwan’s music scene is now available for viewing online. Part One is embedded above and links to all five videos can be found at the end of this post.

I contacted  Exclaim! TV’s Sam Sutherland by e-mail and asked him about his impressions of his time in Taiwan. He was surprised that at Spring Scream not many people were drinking. Sam said, “At any music festival in North America, the beer tent is as crowded as the main stage. But it seemed like James and I were the only people bothering to buy beers in a crowd of thousands.” Continue reading