Protesting the exaggerated and inappropriate actions taken by the Ma administration while hosting Chinese cross-straits envoy Chen Yunlin in Taiwan (huge police forces blocking protesters from coming any close to where the envoy met with high Taiwanese politicians, use of violence by the police forces, ban on showing ROC- and Tibetan flags, imprisonment of leading opposition politicians, etc.), has led Taiwan's students circa one month ago to form the "Wild Strawberries Movement". The movement has groups in six cities: Taipei, Kaohsiung, Tainan, Hsinchu, Chiayi, and Taichung. Their means is peaceful protest, most profoundly do they wish to hold out in a sit-in strike to pressure politicians to take on democracy and the people they represent more seriously. In the media, the Wild Strawberries have been misrepresented from the beginning, in what resembles a campaign to denounce their political engagement as being led by the opposition (i.e., the DPP) - despite their ever-repeated party neutrality and criticism towards all established parties. The KMT and pan-blue media here show just exactly the same will to manipulate public opinion and generate deep polarisation in between the people as they criticized the former Chen administration of.
This is the homepage: http://taiwanstudentmovement2008.blogspot.com/
Their name seems deliberately chosen, for the young generation in Taiwan is somewhat pejoratively being called "strawberries" often (since they are said to be spoiled and unable to bear any sort of stress). Now Taiwan's students try to show that they have well recognised the signs of the present happenings: The fear that Taiwan's democratic environment and human rights situation might soon deteriorate (if they have not already).
The Wild Strawberries have urged President Ma and Prime Minister Liou to apologize for the actions taken by government and police during the time of the Chen-visit to Taiwan. They also ask the directors of National Police Agency and National Security Bureau, respectively, to step down from their offices, and for the law concerning the right to assemble (dating from Martial Law times and strictly restricting such assemblings) to be revised by the Legislative Yuan.
I hope for the Berries-Students to be at least as successfull as their predecessors who were protesting in 1990, one year after the CCP had crushed a student revolt so profundly and suddenly. In 1990, the KMT didn't dare take such action against peacefully demonstrating students. Eventually, the students' protests paved the way for ameliorating the constitution, being another stone on the way that led to democratisation. Only, our fear is that Ma will play on time and wait until the protesters spirit has vanished, so to refrain from any changes in his style of politics other than rhetoric (and his rhetoric being this and that, anyway).
A few days ago, they uploaded a video introducing their movement:
To work against frustration (mostly deriving from being almost completely ignored by the government) and gather new spirit in working towards a change, the movement is about to set a new step:
On December 7th, they are going to rally a few thousand people (hopefully) to march towards the Presidental Office, in obvious violation of the old Law on Assembling and without a police permit. Thus they are hoping to enhance the political debate about revising the law. Whether or not police forces will crush the "illegal" demonstration will be of significant influence for the future of that law. This should be a way to evoke reaction by the government (to "coax them out of their shell"), in one way or another, and prevent the protests from dying from inactivity and idleness.
There is also a lot more brand new information on some English-speaking blogs in Taiwan, for instance on "the view from Taiwan" and "David on Formosa". Especially the Taipei Times had some nice editorials on the student protests (example). Don't forget the protesters website and their effort to keep it updated several times a day, all in English.
An English Statement can be found here.
On this occasion, Anti-Flag spontaneously springs to mind: "You can kill the protester, but you can't kill the protest! You can murder the rebell, but you can't murder the rebellion!"
All I can wish for is: May your protest be longlived and bright, may it bring about the change we want to see!
Following is their statement in German:
Durch Berichte in den Medien haben wir den Ernst der Situation erkannt. Es geht nicht nur um Details bei der Strafverfolgung, noch handelt es sich einfach um einen Konflikt zwischen Anhaengern verschiedener politischer Parteien. Es geht vielmehr um Polizeigewalt, die vom Staat gefördert wird und die die Zivilgesellschaft beschaedigt.
Alle diese Aktionen, die Menschenrechte und demokratische Werte ignorieren, erinnern an das Kriegsrecht. Aber der Premier Liu weicht seiner Verantwortung mit unklaren Entschuldigungen aus. Diese Reaktionen der Regierung empören und beschaemen uns.
Wir fragen uns: Muss Taiwan seine Standards bei Freiheit und Demokratie bis auf das Niveau von China senken, um mit China wirtschaftlich kooperieren zu können?
Innerhalb weniger Tage sind Freiheit und Demokratie, für die die Taiwanesen so hart gekaempft haben, durch die Polizeiaktionen ernsthaft beschaedigt worden. Unsere Regierung ignoriert dies und veranstaltet stattdessen Empfaenge und Bankette für den Gast aus China.
Wir sind eine Gruppe von Universitaetsprofessoren, Studenten, und Bürgern, die sich Sorgen um die zukünftige Entwicklung Taiwans machen. Unser Protest ist überparteilich und unabhaengig von anderen politischen Organisationen.
Wir werden weiter friedlich demonstrieren, bis unsere Forderungen erfüllt werden. Unsere Forderungen sind:
Präident Ma Ying-Jeou und Premierminister Liu Chao-Shiuan müssen sich öffentlich bei allen Bürgern für die Vorkommnisse entschuldigen.
Der Generaldirektor der nationalen Polizei, Wang Cho-Chiun, und der Direktor der Staatssicherheitsbehörde, Tsai Chao-Ming, müssen zurücktreten.
Das Parlament muss das Versammlungsgesetz, das die Versammlungsfreiheit der Menschen einschränkt, revidieren.