[Wild Strawberries, Taipei, Taiwan]
Dec 11th , 2008
After four hours of Human Rights Day, Taiwanese government forced students and Tibetan refugees to leave the Liberty Square, and moved everything students had sat up there at Dec 11th, 2008, 4 am in the dark. Handling only 30 students of Wild Strawberries Student Movement, who is protesting police violence and defend human rights, Taiwanese government used more than 300 officers with shield and weapons to circle around students, dozens of heavy-guarded buses, to drag them one by one to the buses and cleaned the Liberty Square.
While police force tried to untie students against their will to leave, several students were hurt during the process by violently beating or twisting while some policemen was laughing with arrogant attitude. One student recalled: “Yes, I remember the faces they had while they tore us down. They were laughing. They cursed us, shouting ‘finally I can chase you out! Sons of Bitch! ” Another student said that they were trying to negotiate with the police that they are going to leave peacefully, voluntarily. But this request was answered with more police with weapons at hand to surround 30 students in the center at dark.
At the north side of the Liberty Square, about 100 Tibetan refugees were also forced to walk into the police buses by themselves peacefully in the dark. They hold posters such as “I love Taiwan” and said they were in debt to come here and have stayed here several years without any legal status. Taiwanese government tried to ignore them instead of helping them. But if they got return to India or Tibet, they will get serious punishments and they’ve rather die. Most of them cannot speak Mandarin and did not resist against police at all. However, the Taiwanese police divided them deliberately into 6 buses and drove them to six different sites among the suburban mountains to “dispose” in the morning. Students of wild strawberries were trying anxiously to reach and locate them by cell phone, but Tibetans, as foreigners in Taiwan, could hardly recognize where they were in Taipei.
How could Taiwan, claiming to be a democratic, free country, did such crime without any humanity concern to Tibetans and students? How could police force imply such mean and well-planned strategies to treat an peaceful students movement and Tibetan refugees? Ironically, less than 24 hours ago, President Ma in Taiwan announced in public, saying “Taiwan is the most free country to assembly and parade in the world” in an occasion of hosting an human rights award ceremony, while two or three students and Tibetan among the audience were forced to leave. What a lie, what a show.
Why Taiwanese government ignore but tolerant the students’ movement at Liberty Square for more than one month, but suddenly they changed their mind and forced students to leave? The answer is the group of Tibetan refugee with more than 100 members, coming to Liberty Square to stay since this Tuesday. During the negotiation with police, students were warned in advance: “ If you helped those Tibetan, you can protect yourselves.” However, students share their sleeping bags, jackets, scarf, water, shelters and food with Tibetan during the night, while the weather was chilly and windy in Taipei. Students were told: “it is because you helped Tibetan, so we have to force you out!”
After the “cleaning” of Liberty Square, students and Tibetans came back to the Liberty Square after they were “abandoned” by police. Students hold an press conference together with Tibetans and announce that they are going to stay there. The representative of the Tibetan refugees also expressed his appreciation for students helps. Students of Wild Strawberries also announced their strongest support for Tibetan refugees and expressed their anger at the government’s cruel treatment on Tibetans.
How could a democratic state turn Tibetan refugee around and bully its own young people to help Tibetan refugees? This awkward attitude is the vivid image that President Ma is trying to do: to impress Beijing. Ma is busy to correct his talking about the visit of Dalai Lama recently, saying : “It is not a good time for him to visit Taiwan”, while Dalai Lama was visiting France. He then further chased out the peaceful Tibetan refugees with students in Liberty Square.
The Wild Strawberries Movement was begun at Nov 6th 2008 in Taipei, while an Chinese envoy visited Taiwan and Taiwanese government used heavy police force and heavy tactic to prevent the envoy from hearing Taiwanese protesting violence. They’ve got more than 140,000 people’s signature to support them and more than 900 scholars in Taiwan supports them as well. It was their 35 day silent sit-in at liberty square and they hold a peaceful parade this passing Sunday. They’ve announced to change their site this week and planned to leave the Liberty Square soon.
* CNN i-report: what happened at the beginning…(video) http://www.ireport.com/docs/DOC-156557
* How police treat students and Tibetan yesterday (news + video) http://www.taipeitimes.com/News/front/archives/2008/12/12/2003430879
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