Archive for the ‘Toughtst from Taiwanese students and professors’ Category
(originally post on Sociological eye)
While most of the discussions on equality and political change occur around the presidential election in United States last week, events of civil rights movement are not limited to the US continent. A student-led protest for the freedom of speech and assembly is burning through out the island of Formosa. On November 3rd, the representative from China’s Association of Relations Across the Taiwan Strait (ARATS), Chen Yunlin, came to visit Taiwan and met with the Taiwanese current president, Ma Ying-jeou, on trade agreements and economic cooperation between Taiwan and China. Due to political beliefs, hundreds of protestors gathered around the venue to protest against the meeting. Government officials required that all protesting activities should be shield off within Chen Yunlin’s eye-sight. Taiwanese flags were banned, protesting groups were expelled or arrested, Taiwanese songs were shut off in near by record stores and there were also violence conduct by polices against civilians. This induced a protest led by students against the “law on assembly and parade” in Taiwan. The law on assembly and parade in Taiwan restricts the people’s mobility and freedom to carry out protests, while reinforcing government agencies’ power to monitor and control such events. Liberty and freedom are crucially at stake in this political incident.
Two important aspects of liberty manifested in the protest could find their roots in theories of civil and social rights. Political and social scientist, Deborah Stone, has distinguished between two kinds of liberty: negative liberty and positive liberty. Negative liberty defines rights as the absence of constraint among citizens, while positive liberty defines rights as active provision of opportunities and resources by the government to citizens. The freedom of speech and assembly could be seen as a negative liberty. There should be as less government intervention as possible when members of a society attempt to express their opinions and ideas, no matter what form they take on. A positive notion is also at work in framing the concept of liberty. In order to enable minority groups to express their opinions and ideas more freely, and voice beyond the overwhelming oppression of mainstream ideologies, official agencies should actively provide a secured space and platform for expression. In this on going protest, the students merely request for negative liberty, trying to lift regulations violating basic human rights. Before the law on parade and assembly is abolished, it is hard to ask the government to assure more positive liberty for the freedom of speech.
However, in terms of legal conflicts of the act of the protest itself, a dilemma occurs. The law on parade and assembly demands that protestors have to apply to protest six days before the event. Certain issues are banned and certain locations are not allowed for assemblage. The protest follows the idea of “civil disobedience,” by the philosoper, Thoreau. The students insist on not applying for permission in order to manifest and protest against the absurdity of the law. They also insist on gathering in forbidden locations before expelled by force. The question here is: if citizens do not have to conform to the law when they see it as “illegitimate,” what authority would the law still retain in its ruling over members of the society?
Originally posted in Carolyn Wu’s blog
Dear Whom It May Concern,
I’ve been in a terrible mood these two days. I watched the tv up to 10 hours a day reluctantly. Yes! I can just turn it off but i left it be on. I know I can keep silence and do nothing and…just let the time passes and just let it go and let it be. But I don’t want, and I cannot betray my faith.
During the summer session that I attended which talked about English literature. All that we talked about in classes was that the core thought of knights in middle century of Britain– the faith in his land, his lord and his country if there is one. Many people consider knights’ faith lies in their gentle attitude toward ladies; however, it’s only half way to the right answer. The core value for a knight to fight against monsters (resemblance of anti-Jesus religions, crown competitors and so on) was the faith to contribute their strength, spirit and their body to his country by glorious battles. They are not perfect, even far away from perfection comparing with strong monsters, like Sir Gawayne in the novel. Protesting people recently unfairly treated by police reminded me of Sir Gawayne and his brave behavior. He bore a mission that is to protect a lady from faraway nation on the way to her home which was occupied by a great monster. He was defeated to nearly death but Faith, Moral and Hope led him to a glorious house to heal his wounds and finally got the strengh to beat the biggest monster in the end. Don’t you think those people who were their to speak out “Taiwan is my country!”, “No Communism invasion!” and “No police violence!” are really brave ones who bore the risk to be arrested and violently retreat. What they wanted was very similar to their earlier generation–FREEDOM.
I could not believe my eyes everytime i turn on my tv. I could not believe the land that I have lived for 23 years become a place to be ruined by police and politicians. I could not take the visit of our potential barrel officer worths our welcome let alone the exagerating protection. But what I cannot take upmost is the way they treat OUR PEOPLE who was supposed to be OUR. They climbed upon protesters’ shoulders, protesters’ bellies to protesters’ head sin order to get their power shown and their political rightness seen by their boss and bosses if chinese ones were included.
Those Tibet people who seek for political heritages in Taiwan are another story to tell my sympathy and sorry for their embarrassing situation now. I think if we don’t speak up for them today, one day, which might be very fast, when we need political heritage from another free country in the world, we will not get any because the way we treat those Tibet people this unfair way.
My grandpa used to tell me the effort and fight in his generation to reach democracy, but i think he forgot to remind me the fragilty democracy itself. He also forgot to tell me if neccesary, i need to demonstrate, I need speak up and i need to do anything possible to unlock those blocks. The reason he forgot to tell me was because he never imagined this could ever happen again in this beautiful island.
I’m sorry, grandpa. It happens and still happening.
So, SPEAK UP, TAIWANESE! For our land, our country our people and our Grandparents! They are too matured to go on the street and we should make them comfort as a feedback to their suffer during past 60 years.
I wanna speak up and I know you’re too!
So, speak up! Don’t be afraid!
Speak up! Don’t hesitate!
Speak up! We are all together!
Speak up! for our continuous living in this land!
Please speak up and be at my side!
(Carolyn Wu, Taiwanese)
The site is taken down as a way to humbly protest the lost of freedom of
speech and Liberty in Taiwan.
I was questioned by a police on the street across NTU campus just because I
aimed my camera to a police on the street. No name tag on his uniform and no
identification for himself. Most importantly, I am not the only one.
If I have told you that Taiwan government works very hard to protect her
I take it back.
If I have told you that Taiwan is a democratic society,
I take it back.
If I have told you that we can always complain the President in public,
I take it back.
If I have told you that Taiwan is a nice place to visit,
I take it back.
Very soon, visiting Taiwan will just experience what you have in Mainland
Please accept my apology for any inconvenience.
Nov. 5th, 2008.
Chi-Sheng Shih is a professor at Department of Computer Science of National Taiwan University. He said that one policeman questioned him because he want to take photos of the policeman. There were several protests in Taiwan against the visit of representatives from China’s Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Strait (ARATS) and there were several violence when police tried to keep order. Shih was questioned when he tried to document what he saw.
The scene in front of the Executive Yuan On November 6th was indeed one to behold. Over 400 students and professors from different universities, gathered to show their condemnation of inappropriate police conducts and the violation of freedom of speech which has led to civilian injury in recent events. Their request was simple: 1. Demand a formal apology from President Ma Ying-jeou and Premier Liu Chao-shiuan for abusing human rights. 2. Urge the Director-General of the National Police Agency, Wang Cho-chiun and the head of the National Security Bureau, Tsai Chao-ming, to stand down. 3. Request an immediate amendment of the Mass Gathering and Demonstration Act. The students were spontaneous to form Disciplinary Patrol Units to maintain order and tranquility, expressing their defiance through peaceful serene protest. In order to sustain a clear focus on their cause, emblems and logos of political parties were prohibited. The silent protest began at 11:00am, when 200 students gathered in front of the Executive Yuan. By 1:00pm their numbers had increased to over 400. Many professors also turned up to show their support. The police raised warning signs on four separate occasions, and someone opted to move the whole processions to locations registered by the DPP, however, the offer was unanimously turned down. The event was initiated by a group of students and professors, and through the internet expressed their plea of: "Protest against police violence! Safeguard freedom and human rights!". Originally expecting around 50 participants, news of the event spread like wildfire amongst the academic community, and by the next day over 400 showed up to help support the cause. Apart from university students from all over Taiwan, Professors Yun Fan, Hwa-Jen Liu, Pei-Chia Lan from the Department of Sociology at National Taiwan University (NTU), and Assistant Professor Chen-Ling Hung from the Graduate Institute of Journalism (NTU), Professor Guo Pei-Yi from the Institute of Ethnology (Academia Sinica ), Professor Wu Rwei-ren from the Institute of Taiwan History (Academia Sinica), Professor Wu Jieh-min from the Graduate Institute of Sociology (Tsing-Hua University), former Assistant Professor Yeh Chi-Chen from the Department of Sociology (NTU), Assistant Professor Huang Ho-Min from the Department of Sociology (Chengchi University) were also present on scene. In addition to the encouragement and support given by the professors for the student’s cause, many students also expressed their deep concerns of the long term crisis of police using the Mass Gathering and Demonstration Act as an excuse to disband campaigners through force and even illegal detainment, which is a serious breach of the freedom of speech. Master's Degree 2nd year student, Huang Gia-Pin of Graduate School for Social Transformation Studies (Shih Hsin University) commented: "In the past few decades, Taiwan's democracy and human rights have been relatively progressing in Asia, however, in the few days that Chen Yun-lin visited Taiwan, we see the accumulated democratic accomplishments being eroded away by legislative units who turn a blind eye when it comes to human rights.” All the important policies throughout the silent protest, were collectively decided by all the participants on scene, implementing direct democracy. The Executive Yuan was only willing to send a second group negotiator to 'receive' the student representatives, which was perceived by the students as a lack of sincerity, a weak attempt by the authorities to pacify the situation. The students reinstated their demand of "an apology from Ma and Liu", "the relieve from office of Director General of the NPA, and the head of the National Security Bureau", and "an immediate amendment of the Mass Gathering and Demonstration Act". As the Executive Yuan refused to formally receive the student’s pleas, the students decided to campaign overnight and prepare for a long-term approach. Even if the demonstration were to be dispersed through force, the students will surely regroup, "without a formal answer, we will not leave". (Translated by fallenseraph,阿翔) Visit the original website(苦勞網) here 十一月六日，在行政院大門前聚集將近四百名來自各校的大學生以及教授，不滿近日來警 察不當執法、侵害言論自由，導致合法集會的民眾受傷，要求「馬英九總統、劉兆玄院長 道歉」、「警政署長、國安局長下台」和「立即修正集遊惡法」。現場學生為了維持主體 性與訴求的明確，組成糾察隊維持秩序，環繞靜坐人群，並謝絕政黨旗幟入場。 現場學生為了維持主體性與訴求的明確，組成糾察隊維持秩序，環繞靜坐人群，並謝絕政 黨旗幟入場。 今早十一點，兩百名學生來到行政院門口前靜坐，直到下午一點前來聲援的學生陸續增加 至四百多名，也有多位教授前來支持學生的行動。過程中面臨警方四度舉牌，有人提議移 師至民進黨合法申請的場地，但遭到在場同學一致否決。 除了教授們表達支持學生與捍衛言論自由的訴求外，同學們也紛紛發言表示，長期來警方 以集會遊行法為由，動輒強制驅離甚至違法拘留抗議者，嚴重侵害言論自由。世新社會發 展研究所碩士二年級黃佳平同學表示：「過去幾十年來，台灣的民主與人權在亞洲相對地 進步，但是在陳雲林來台的這幾天內，我們看到這些累積下來的民主成果，卻因為行政單 位對於人權的漠視，而遭到破壞。」 由一群大學教授和同學共同發起，透過網路串聯，以「抗議警察暴力！捍衛自由人權！」 為訴求：原預估僅有五十人參加，但一夜之間經過輾轉相傳，竟有四百多人到場靜坐。除 了來自全台各地的學生外，尚有台大社會系范雲教授、劉華真教授、藍佩嘉教授、台大新 聞所助理教授洪貞玲、中研院民族所郭佩宜教授、中研院台灣史研究所吳叡人教授、清華 大學社會所吳介民教授、台大社會系前教授葉啟政、政大社會系助理教授黃厚銘等學者， 到場聲援。 在院方不願正面回應學生訴求下，學生們決議將進行守夜並長期抗戰，絕不妥協； 即便遭到強制驅離，也會再度集結，「不達訴求，絕不解散」。 活動過程中所有的重要決策，都以在場參與者進行小組討論，落實直接民主，當行政院院 方表示僅願意以第二組參議「接見」學生代表，現場同學一致認為院方派遣層級過低的官 員出面，只想安撫學生，缺乏誠意，因此堅持原本訴求：「馬、劉道歉」、「警政署長、 國安局長下台」和「立即修正集遊惡法」。
Starting on November 3, with the visit of representatives from China's Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Strait (ARATS) to sign various agreements with our government , police officers have engaged in numerous abusive acts against peaceful protestors from various dissenting groups, under the guise of "keeping the peace". These acts have included arbitrary searches and prohibitions, seizure and destruction of property, physical assault, dispersion, and even arrest and detention. The vast majority of the victims of this police brutality were nowhere near ARATS Chairman Chen Yunlin, and were simply passing, standing, or photographing various areas when they were victimized. Through reports in the media, we have come to realize the seriousness of the current situation. It is no longer a technical question of excessive law enforcement tactics, nor is it simply a partisan issue between supporters of various political parties. This is a proliferation of state sponsored violence that is provoking and attacking civil society. All these oppressive acts, which ignore human rights and democratic values are reminiscent of martial law. Even legislators from the ruling party have expressed concern over this issue to the Executive Yuan, only to see the chief authority - Premier Liu, dodge responsibility while providing only the flimsiest of excuses. We are stunned and outraged by this response, as well as ashamed and increasingly uneasy. We must ask: Does increasing cross-Strait exchange require Taiwan to lower its standards of freedom and democracy, in order to achieve the same level of repressive authoritarian rule that China has? In only a few short days, the liberal democracy that the people of Taiwan have fought so hard for has nearly collapsed amid massive police presence in the city, and the atmosphere of fear and repression that it brings. Behind its police state-like barricades, our government remains blinded by its delusions of a "meeting of historic proportions", and indulge itself in its receptions and banquets. Through this all, the peoples' constitutionally guaranteed rights to freedom of speech and movement have been cast aside, and even forgotten. As many of their actions are unconstitutional, it is not surprising that not a single police officer before the cameras has been able to definitively state what law empowers them to carry out the orders issued to them by their superiors. Police officers are supposed to be civil servants charged with protecting the people. Yet under the outrageous requests issued from above, they have become thugs restricting and punishing the people for expressing their opinions. We have no intention of blaming individual police officers who can only obey orders issued by their superiors. Rather, we solemnly demand that the highest authorities in the government bear the largest share of political responsibility for these abuses. We are simply a group of university professors, students, cultural workers, and citizens who are concerned about Taiwan's current state of disorder and future development. At 11AM on November 6, without any support or mobilization from any political party or civic group, we will assemble at the gate of the Executive Yuan in black clothes and face masks symbolizing our painful protest, and will join hands sitting in civil disobedience until our requests are met. Our requests include: President Ma Ying-jeou and Premier Liu Chao-shiuan must publicly apologize to all citizens. National Police Agency Director-General Wang Cho-chiun and National Security Bureau Director Tsai Chao-ming must step down. The Legislative Yuan must revise the Parade and Assembly Law, which currently restricts the rights of the people.(Translated by Loren Chang, 海天) 從11月3日開始，中國海協會代表團來臺與政府簽署各項協定，同時在臺北各處，就陸續 出現警方藉「維安」之名，對各類以和平方式表達不同意見者，進行粗暴的盤查、損毀、 沒收、禁制、拉扯、驅離甚至拘捕。絕大多數遭致警察暴力相向的民眾，根本不曾靠近陳 雲林人身，有的市民甚至只是路過、停留或單純拍攝記錄，即遭受上述對待。 透過媒體畫面傳送，我們驚覺事態嚴重 這已經不是維安有否過當的技術問題、更不只是政黨認同選擇的問題，而是暴力化的國家 公權，對市民社會的嚴重挑釁和侵犯。所有彷彿戒嚴、罔顧自由人權與民主價值的管控鎮 壓，連執政黨的國會議員都質問行政院長；卻只見身為最高責任主管的劉揆，仍在輕佻地 詭辯和推責。實在令人既錯愕憤怒，又深感羞辱和不安。 我們不禁要問：難道要強化兩岸經貿交流，也必須透過降低臺灣的民主自由程度、以達成 與中國同樣極權統治的水準嗎？ 才不過短短幾天，臺灣人民好不容易匍匐建立的民主自由體制，在滿城的警力、威嚇的氛 圍與強勢的防堵中，幾近崩解。我們政府，在如同警察國家的武裝保護裡，自我陶醉於「 歷史性儀式」的想像、與酒酣耳熱的輪番大宴中。於此，憲法所保障人民的自由言論與行 動權利，完全地被擱置、甚至忘卻。 因為多數的強勢作為根本違憲違法，無怪乎鏡頭前沒有一個警察能理直氣壯說出，他們根 據何種「法律」，執行這般上級交待的勤務。警察原是保護人民的公僕，如今在這政府由 上而下的嚴峻要求中，竟競相成了限制與懲罰人民表達意見的打手。我們無意歸咎個別只 能服從上命的員警，相對的，我們嚴正要求下達此一惡令的政府高層，必須負起最大的政 治責任。 我們只是一群憂心臺灣混亂現況與未來發展的大學教授、學生、文化工作者和市民，在沒 有任何政黨與團體動員及奧援的前提下，十一月六日（四）上午十一點，將自發性地集結 於行政院大門前，以「著黑衣、戴口罩」作為沈痛抗議的象徵，並牽手靜坐至訴求達成為 止。我們的訴求是： 一、 馬英九總統和行政院長劉兆玄必須公開向國人道歉。 二、 警政署長王卓鈞、國安局長蔡朝明，應立刻下臺。 三、 立法院應儘速修改限縮人民權利的「集會遊行法」。