21 Nov 2008

Nov 20, Taipei, Wild Strawberries Movement Situation Report

Wild Strawberries Movement Update
Protest update
Protest in Liberty Square, Taipei:
• Apart from large rally, number of sit-in protest students remains consistent throughout the week, few in the dawn, significant more protesters joint after noon, peaked around 30-40 in late afternoon, based on these figures, The Movement has estimated that about 70 sit-in protesters are involved in weekday. The Movement attributed the declining number of sit-in protesters to cold weather and approaching mid-term exam for university students.
• The Movement has started organizing contact information of those involves in the protest, networking various civil societies, non -government organizations (NGO) and different sectors of society, with long-term objective of broadening Wild Strawberries’ appeal to the society at large.
• The issue of poor communication between sit-in student protesters and the Movement Headquarter has been resolved through the liaison conference held on 8th November, which clarified the chain of commands and updating the feed-back mechanism.
• Certain quarters of Society have expressed their interest in join the protest. The Movement decides that the protest will remain student only for the time being.
Protest in other cities
Hsinchu protest:
• Rotating-shift works quite well.
Taichung protest:
• Not enough student-protesters participating.
Chiayi protest:
• Not enough student-protesters, daily protester number remain single digit.
Tainan protest:
• Protesters high in spirit, confident that they can last all the way into mid-December
Kaohsiung protest:
• Threatened by the police for expressing anti-Ma (President) sentiments. Outlook for Kasohsiung protest remain pessimistic
Eastern Taiwan Protest:
• Under preparation
All regional protests are operational, though some difficulties have surfaced in the week, naming insufficient protesters and police interventions. No central command exists currently in Wild Strawberries Movement, all regional protest are organized in free association with Taipei protest, local protest can be organize and dissolve without the consent of Taipei protest organizer, it is imperative that, if the local leadership do wish to discontinue their protests, they shall consider possible affect on the morality of entire Wild Strawberries Movement. The Movement organizer here in Taipei hereby, urging those intent to discontinue protest, do consult with other regional and Taipei protest organizers first, so that ripple-effect can be avoid, morality be maintain, and best cause of action can be devise for the sake of movement.
External Supports
• Academics are extremely enthusiastic about the causes of Wild Strawberries Movement; Seminars have been organized for protest students by university academic staff on diverse topics. The academics also held public lectures to educate the general public.
Non-Government Organization (NGO):
• Enthusiastic supporters from the beginning, providing both logistic and morale support to The Movement. Future co-operation on certain topics with The Movement have been identified. The Movement are grateful for NGOs’ support in resources, Public Relations expertise and expert advices by Professional NGOs.
Arts and Culture Community:
• Late comer, but no less then others in enthusiasm, organized and provided entertaining yet informative event last weekend. National Taipei Art University has announced its support for The Movement.
General Public:
• Provides both moral and logistic support, through some skirmish occurred in Taipei Protest between public supporting students and pro-government extremists. The decision on general public’s participation in actual sit-in protest is still under discussion.
Executive branch of Government:
• The cabinet (The Executive Yuan) refused to admit the excess uses of violence against protesters during the week of Chinese Envoy’s visit; the cabinet praises the police action as “appropriate” and “Lawful”. The Ma administration shows no intention to neither negotiate nor respond to The Movement’s Twelve Demands. Furthermore, the ruling KMT party has pleaded its support to Ma’s stance; it is fear that with KMT’s majority in the assembly, amending the Law of Assemble and Parade would be extremely difficult.
• The Ma administration has refused to dismiss the two high officials whom the protesters have named and blamed for the violence, instead, as said by Ma, no apology would be offer, and no dismissal would be made.
• In light of Ma administration’s indifferences to protests’ plights, The Movement must re-consider it’s strategy in forcing the Government into negotiation, it is abundantly clear that the Ma administration will not dismiss culprits for the violence, will not apologize for the atrocities committed, and certainly no genuine will to amend the much derided Law of Assemble and Parade. Without extracting single concession from Government, The Movement is at risk of losing popular support and momentum.
Legislative branch of Government:
• Both DPP and KMT caucus have proposed their amendment of Law of Assemble and Parade, although the KMT version is far less satisfactory then those demanded by The Movement. Further, the KMT has mobilized its majority in the assembly to delay the public hearing date for the proposed amendments, hoping that the delay would wether public’s support and The Movement’s resolve.
• Media attentions have largely shift to the trial of former president Chen, Shui-Bien. The media also attempt to portray the Movement as pro-DPP fringe group, hence, politicising actions of Wild Strawberries. It is also noted, that rather then focuses on the plights of the Movement, the media prefer to report on the minor incidents, such as skirmish between supporting public and pro-government extremists, while ignoring original three demands put forwards by the students.
The Movement must refocus and re-energize in face of un-friendly media, government that want to neither negotiate nor respond, legislature that delayed amendment hearing through procedural means. New methods in forcing the Government into the negotiation table must be devise, Different demands for changes in the Law of Assemble and Parade from myriad NGOs must be consolidated in single, cohesive policy that can garners supports from the populace, safeguards basic human rights, reconcile the freedom of expression and needs in maintaining social cohesion.
Final Thoughts
New directives regarding the future action and organization of The Movement will be discuss in the coming days, The Movement will also propose its own version of amendment to the Law of Assemble and Parade in near future after consultations with students, NGOs, and Professional groups. Comments and thoughts about The Movement’s version of amendment are welcome, Suggestions in how to mobilize popular supports for this particular amendment is much appreciated.
Last and not least, in the spirit of democracy, Regional Protest Organizers are welcome in participating the decision making process of The Movement, any thoughts, comments, suggestions, are always appreciate here in Taipei.

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