Taiwan News, Staff Writer
2013-10-10 05:45 PM
The action group Citizen 1985 organized the event to set a contrast with the official celebrations just a few streets away. The flags of the ruling Kuomintang and of the opposition Democratic Progressive Party were taken down while a white flag with the effigy of an eye in the middle was raised to symbolize the importance of the public over the political parties, organizers said.
The administration of President Ma Ying-jeou was only interested in power struggles but not in the fate of Taiwan’s ordinary people, protesters said. The participants, many of them wearing white shirts and waving small copies of the flag with the eye and the English word ‘Citizens,’ sat for hours outside the Legislature before moving to Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall during the afternoon. At the new location, protesters were asked to write letters to their future selves in the Taiwan of 2023.
At least 60,000 people took part in the protests, organizers said, including author Giddens, prominent movie director Ko Yi-cheng, traumatologist and potential Taipei City mayoral candidate Ko Wen-je, and the sister of Army Corporal Hung Chung-chiu, after whose controversial death Citizen 1985 organized a mass rally in Taipei last August.
The group’s basic demands included lower thresholds for referendums, recalls of government officials and subsidies for political parties, and a renegotiation of the service trade accord with China.
In addition to the group, anti-nuclear activists and an organization known as the ‘Black Island Youth Front’ also launched protests at a short distance from the Presidential Office Building and the Legislative Yuan.
About 4,000 police officers had been mobilized for the events, reports said.
The youth front gave members of the public the opportunity to leave black handprints on the faces of the president, Vice President Wu Den-yih and Premier Jiang Yi-huah to symbolize slaps in the face.
The group was reportedly also involved in an altercation with the authorities. Police said 25 officers were injured when a vehicle participating in another protest tried to pass a blockade and head for the Presidential Office Building in the early morning before the start of the official ceremony.
The vehicle, which reportedly belonged to the ‘Black Island Youth Front,’ stood parked at a location where it would hamper the official parade, police said, but when they tried to persuade the driver to leave, the truck hit the officers.
More than a hundred anti-nuclear protesters raised a flag of their own, saying it was alright to celebrate the National Day, but the public should not forget the threat nuclear energy posed to the nation.
If the government developed an unsafe nuclear power plant, there would be no country left to celebrate, the protesters said. President and Cabinet should resign if they didn’t stop building the fourth nuclear plant, they added.
The anti-nuclear event drew former Vice President Annette Lu, ex-Premier Yu Shyi-kun and potential Taipei City mayoral candidates Ko and Wellington Koo.
Other opponents of nuclear power started an 84-day walk around the island from the fourth plant now nearing completion in Gongliao, New Taipei City.