Free Speech In Taiwan

Taiwanese students in the U.S., trying to share these events in Taiwan with the world.

Archive for the ‘Toughtst from Taiwanese students and professors’ Category

To Obey or no to Obey, This is the Question

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By linanne10

(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?

Written by linanne10

November 13, 2008 at 11:10 pm

Speak Up!(From 吳怡旻 Carolyn Wu’s blog)

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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)

Written by freespeechintaiwan

November 7, 2008 at 10:45 pm

An article from a professor’s blog

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Dear Visitors,


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.

Written by freespeechintaiwan

November 7, 2008 at 4:50 pm

Some photos of the protest.

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Written by freespeechintaiwan

November 7, 2008 at 7:28 am

Campaigning Against Police Violence! Safeguarding Freedom and Human Rights!

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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 






Written by freespeechintaiwan

November 7, 2008 at 5:42 am

Protest police brutality! Defend freedom and human rights!(Sit-in Activity Statement)

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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)







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」。

Written by freespeechintaiwan

November 7, 2008 at 4:38 am