Ma Ying-jeou greets Sunflower Movement member at youth forum – WantChinaTimes

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WantChinaTimes Ma Ying-jeou greets Sunflower Movement member at youth forum WantChinaTimes Taiwan’s president, Ma Ying-jeou, greeted a young member of the medical team that served the Sunflower Student Movement at a youth forum on Sunday, saying he…

Barbara Capilos‘s insight:

On a different note from our last post, the president whose decision caused such unrest amongst the young people of Taiwan, bringing them to begin their Occupy Taiwan protest, is now calling bygones bygones. Ma Ying-jeou met and shook hands with a member of the Sunflower Movement during a forum organized with the intent of listening to the opinions of the young. Chang, the member in question, stated that he had come to the "enemy’s camp" in hopes that Ma would be willing to hear the voice of those who were against him. Ma proved to be surprisingly open, stating that he is happy to meet with student protesters so long as there are no demands, for that is the only time communication can really be true. Chang is stated to have left the interaction with an improved opinion of Ma.

This reaching out between what were conflicting forces–the "enemy", as Chang had said–bodes well for the future of Taiwanese youth and the government. The Sunflower Movement established that the youth of Taiwan are now engaged in the governance process. And this peaceful communication between them and the government despite having had to concede their stand, shows that the engagement will continue, and progress will come from here.

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Issues Concerning the Law

sunflower crackdownLooks like things aren’t quite over just yet. While the actual occupation might be behind us, there is now a scramble as to who should be held accountable and to what extent punishment might be doled- and that’s going both ways. The above photo depicts some of the key figureheads in the Sunflower Movement in the Taipei District Prosecutor’s Office, being led to be questioned about their involvement in the protests. The short news article from China Times states that a several members stand accused of a number of offenses, such as obstructing the police in their line of duty, and will be under investigation regarding this.

But just as the members of the protesting group are being investigated for their actions concerning the police, so too are the police being investigated for their actions concerning the protesters. An article in the Taipei Times reveals that legislature is looking into the police crackdown that occurred on March 24th against the protesters who stormed the Executive Yuan.  There is controversy regarding this at the moment, since it appears that the police are being withholding with evidence as to the reality of the account. Though they attested that they already submitted the video footage of the event, none could be found, which is suspicious especially since there are multiple eye witness accounts saying that the police vandalized and used unnecessary force. Their response to the initial Occupy movement is being said to be “tantamount to imposing martial law”. Further investigations will follow, but at the moment, it seems like the protesters are the ones in better shoes.

A Show of Support Around the World: how Citizen Media Played a Hand

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From March 18th to April 10th, the Sunflower Movement took its stand. Though brief, it will no doubt continue to be seen as significant moment in history, and one that garnered much solidarity around the world. In the photo above only a small collection of the outflow of support for Taiwan is shown, pictured through groupings and rallies all over the globe. The way in which the cause of Occupy Taiwan was able to spread so rapidly actually ties to this picture–or rather, collection of pictures. This was a movement that made use of social media. People tweeted, instagrammed, and, as seen previously in this blog, youtubed every moment. Technology played a crucial role in not only getting the word out of what was happening, but of garnering support through the whole procedure. People were able to learn of Taiwan’s issue through the collective eye of citizen media. The blog Global Voices Online takes a closer look at that in their article “How Technology and Citizen Media Shaped Taiwan’s Sunflower Movement“. The article goes into detail about how the Sunflower Movement used technology to its best advantage. From setting up a live stream of the parliament occupation, to creating websites that explained the exact issues and significances of the trade pact they were protesting, to using Facebook as a way of planning the logistics of their continued protest- every step was planned and supported by citizen media and technology. With technology they offered the world a chance to step in and stand with them, and stand wit them they did. Even if it was from across oceans.

Taking it to far or not?

A massive amount of students were demonstrating in the capital of Taiwan (Taipei) to protest against a trade pact with China known as the Cross-Strait Service Trade Agreement (CSSTA), with hundreds of these students storming, yelling towards the parliament buildings. They have been occupying the chamber since Tuesday, using chairs, desk, and other office items to barricade themselves in while they demand an audience with The President Ma Ying-Jeou. I understand the intent of what the Taiwanese people are standing for, however there has to be a line drawned between right and wrong. No matter how one may feel about an issue, topic and or decision, there is no need to destroy property and or cause harm to any establishment. I feel as for how the Taiwanese citizens went about conducting themselves up to this point was uncalled for. As you may see in the video, there is footage of a gate being detached by angry students who in which do this in hopes of obtaining the attention of the current President in office. However due to the anger and objection due to the Cross-Strait Service Trade Agreement, no one was seriously injured in the protest at the parliament.



Red Shirts x Sunflower Movement

Red Shirts

Why so many red shirts? The Sunflower Movement was not the first movement of a better way of life in which was derived from turmoil in the land of Taiwan. To begin with,  in contrast, it seems to me a more fruitful comparison with the Red Shirts anti corruption protests of  mid 2006. The current protests are the largest organized events Taiwan has seen since the Red Shirts. Both of these extremely powerful movements occurred after over six years of the government being in office and at a time when the sitting presidents were significantly unpopular and had been unpopular for a lenghty period of time. Another substantial similarity is that in both of these cases there has been no legitimate reflection on the protestors’ demands by government or any attempts to engage in dialogue with the protestors. In both of these cases, the President at the time had increasingly appeared to be known as the “Lame Duck” president. Naturally there are significant differences. The Red Shirts were largely a top down movement, led by politicians rather than social movement activists such as students and average citizens. The question of the day is whether the movements will see similar conclusions and consequences?




Defend x Sunflower Movement

Other than the fact of shedding light on a poorly crafted and possibly destructful services trade pact with China, Taiwan’s Sunflower Movement has performed an extraordinary, if under-appreciated, service to the country by sparking a necessary societal debate on the meaning of democracy. This movement has open many doors and ideology as to what the term “Democracy” means. Jovially, the vast majority of the Sunflowers’ critics, both in the West and various parts of Asia, have used “democracy” and “rule of law” as a weapon with which to discredit the activists’ nearly three-week occupation of the Legislative Yuan. While conceding the possibility that the movement’s ideals might have been laudable, the critics often expressed strong disagreement with the “illegal” techniques adopted to pressure the government. Many may disagree with that definition of the hot word of the day “Democracy” and seek to expand the nature of it to what is sometimes referred to as positive freedom in which Jonathan Schell defines as “the capacity to participate in political life. The Democracy of Taiwan has become an illusion used and abused by both the powers that be and by those who have no pity in seeing the democratic miracle slowly descend into soft dictatorship. Of course Taipei can reply to the objections with the law and put the leadership behind bars with strong support from a number of people in Taiwan and abroad. After all, they did break the law to include several other dissidents worldwide, some of these people include Liu Xiaobo. But the government has broken its contract with society, and consequently the law has become an instrument of repression.






The World x Sunflower Movement

Rallies! Rallies! and did I forget to mention Rallies! They have been held in Berlin, London, Madrid, Stockholm, Zurich, Edinburgh, Frankfurt, Vienna, Australia, Japan Canada and the United States of America. Many Taiwanese students and refugees in 49 cities across 21 countries organized rallies timed in sync with Sunday’s demonstration in Taipei, as part of a global networking campaign to support the “Sunflower student movement.” This substantial effort was dubbed the “24-Hour Relay Across the Globe in Support of Taiwan,” the worldwide rallies saw Taiwanese and other participants shouting the same slogans as their counterparts in Taipei: “Protecting Taiwan’s Democracy,” and “Withdraw the Trade Deal,” which gained press coverage and wide circulation among online social media. Various students held up placards in which read: “Taiwan is not for sale,” “Transparency, Democracy and National Security for Taiwan” in support of the movement which started with protesters occupying the legislature in Taipei on March 18. On a Sunday morning, the rally commeneced in New Zealand and Australia in which began the World Wide Networking rally. Some other locations included Sydney, Auckland, Brisbane, Canberra, Adelaide and various other locations. Taiwanese students and refugees who currently dwell in Tokyo, Japan were joined by their Japanese friends to call for the withdrawal of the cross-strait pact, shouting slogans in support of the Sunflower movement. Due to currently living in Japan I got to experience this first hand and the energy was very refreshing and motivating at the same time.