3 Dec 2008

Wild Strawberries Major Events (11/3 - 12/1)

Nov. 3-5, 2008

ARATS Chairman Chen Yun-lin visits Taiwan for high level talks with the government concerning Taiwan's future, and is given massive police protection. However, numerous instances of police officers illegally violating the rights to freedom of speech, and freedom of movement occur, with citizens expressing certain opinions specifically targeted. Tension between the police and citizens continues to grow, culminating in violence.


Nov. 5

University students and faculty concerned about human rights and the regression of democracy in Taiwan, and angry with the abuse of power by government and law enforcement agencies, link up over the Internet, deciding to stage a peaceful sit-in in front of the Executive Yuan in protest.


Nov. 6

Starting at 11AM, some 500 university students and faculty wearing black clothing and face masks stage a sit-in at the gates of the Executive Yuan, demanding apologies from President Ma and Premier Liu, the resignation of the directors of the National Police Agency and National Security Bureau, and the revision of the Parade and Assembly Law; police issued four warnings declaring the protest illegal. The Executive Yuan sent out two sets of low ranking officials to placate the students and faculty, who rejected their overtures after voting on the issue. Protesters erected a cordon around the sit-in for protection, but welcomed all citizens not carrying any partisan slogans or signs to join in the sit-in.

On the same day, the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) launched a massive demonstration to protest the Ma-Chen meetings. After police issued the fourth warning to the students, DPP personnel expressed their concern and suggested that the students move to a location near the Legislative Yuan where the DPP had a permit for lawful assembly, but was rejected unanimously by all of the students and faculty. The same evening, a violent confrontation between participants in the DPP-led march and police occurred at the Grand Hotel, and was forcibly suppressed by police before midnight. Students and faculty at the Executive Yuan sit-in prepare themselves psychologically to be dispersed as well.


Nov. 7

At 10:50AM, Cabinet Secretary-General Hsueh Hsiang-chuan emerged to meet with the protesting students and faculty, engaging in a fruitless one hour exchange before leaving. A question asked to Hsueh by a student concerning human rights is quoted out of context by the media, who distort the student's words and claim that he insulted Hsueh by saying he "is not human".

Starting from 4PM, police officers finish assembling and begin dispersing the sitting students, carrying them onto a police bus, and driving most of them to National Taiwan University (others were dropped off at Neihu). Faculty members continued the sit-in until 7PM before being dispersed by police. Starting around 6PM, the students began to reassemble at Liberty Square, with some 800+ students participating. The faculty members held a press conference before the gates of Liberty Square around 8PM to explain the motivations behind the protest. At this time, the leadership of the movement had been completely passed to the students present, who resolved to continue the sit-in without applying for an assembly permit, characterizing it as a student-led movement of civil disobedience.


Nov. 8

Students at National Cheng Kung University in Tainan begin a sit-in in solidarity at the campus gates.

Heavy rain, tents are erected at Liberty Square and sleeping bags are provided.

President Ma visits police officers injured in operations during Chen Yun-lin's visit.


Nov. 9

Students in Central Taiwan begin a sit-in at Civic Plaza in Taichung to show solidarity with the students protesting in Taipei and Tainan.

After a joint meeting between students in Northern, Central, and Southern Taiwan, the protests are officially named the "Wild Strawberry Student Movement".


Nov. 10

Emphasis is placed on demanding the revision of the Parade and Assembly Law, with the slogan "Parade and Assembly Law is unconstitutional, human rights are disappearing".

484 university professors and Academia Sinica researchers sign a joint statement supporting the Wild Strawberries.

During an interview with ETTV, Premier Liu claims that demands for apologies "were not consistent with mainstream opinion", but would hold a public hearing on potentially revising the Parade and Assembly Law. However, concerning the protests, he also casually remarked that "this sort of thing will blow over in two days".

Students in Hsinchu begin a sit-in in front of the food court at National Tsing Hua University in solidarity with the Wild Strawberries.

Students in Kaohsiung bgin a sit-in at the Urban Spotlight in solidarity with the Wild Strawberries.

Education Minister Cheng Jei-cheng visits the students at dusk. Some media outlets laugh at the students for not recognizing the minister.

Documentary films begin to be shown every evening at Liberty Square, and seminars are held, in order to convey the concepts of democracy, human rights, and caring for the underprivileged.


Nov. 11

At noon, 80 year old Liu Po-yan sets himself on fire at Liberty Square to protest government actions during Chen Yun-lin's visit. He is rushed to the hospital and remains there recovering after emergency treatment. The Wild Strawberries express their sympathy and begin a donation drive for Mr. Liu. The KMT refuses to visit Mr. Liu in the hospital, claiming at he let his KMT party membership lapse, and normally watched political talk shows associated with the pan-green (opposition) bloc.

Starting at 6PM, 16 social activist groups begin a nightly one hour silent procession at the sit-in site to show solidarity with the Wild Strawberries.

President Ma claims that "The problem isn't voluntary reporting [of planned assemblies], the problem is violence".


Nov. 12

The Wild Strawberries present video evidence of police overreaction during Chen Yun-lin's visit, as well as statements from victims.

Students in Chiayi begin a sit-in at 228 Park in solidarity with the Wild Srawberries.


Nov. 13

The Legislative Yuan KMT caucus holds a public hearing concerning revision of the Parade and Assembly Law. However, the Wild Strawberries were neither notified, nor invited.

Some 200 artists present the "Reject Silence, Defend Freedom of Expression" petition, and appear at Liberty Square to show solidarity with the Wild Strawberries.

In the evening, a meeting is held at Liberty Square to decide upon a future course of action, eventually resolving to continue the protest past Saturday. It is also decided to hold a large rally on Saturday, to be organized by the students participating.


Nov. 14

Representatives from the Sunrise Record Store, and Professor Chang Hsueh-Kung of the NTU Civil Engineering Department meet with the students at Liberty Square. They describe what actually happened the day the store was forcibly shuttered by police after playing Taiwanese songs within earshot of Chen Yun-lin, and call again on the government to admit its mistake.

Some 20 students in Hong Kong at the Hong Kong Polytechnic University stage a sit-in and video link up with the students at Liberty Square, expressing their solidarity with the Wild Strawberries.

Tibetan representatives in Taiwan visit the students at Liberty Square to show their support, and present the students with khatas.

At noon, the graduate student union at National Political University holds an on-campus seminar explaining the goals of the Wild Strawberry Movement.


Nov. 15

Wild Strawberries, academics, and NGOs hold a rally at Liberty Square, with a mass sit-in, seminars, and skits. Three students volunteer to be locked in cages for 24 hours as a symbol of protest. A public forum is also held. Over 500 students participate.

In the evening, two masked females hold up posters accusing students participating in the sit-in of using raised funds for personal gain, and refuse to speak, leading to tension with bystanders. They are finally escorted away under the protection of Wild Strawberry members.

Another group calling themselves the "Small Blueberries" arrive around 8PM, with the intention of heckling students at the sit-in, but are too afraid to approach the site. They quickly withdraw to the Jing-fu Gate to pose for the media before dispersing.

During a TV interview in Taichung, President Ma states that "Taiwanese students are very competitive before high school, but are weaker in college".


Nov. 16

The three students in the cages emerge and call on President Ma to engage in dialog with the students, in order to debate the merits of their respective positions.

It is decided to establish a "Wild Strawberry Land" free from state sponsored violence, construction plans begin.

Three Wild Strawberry students in Kaohsiung attempt to present their grievances before President Ma during his visit to that city, but are stopped, chased, and threatened by police.

Students at Liberty Square proceed to Taipei Main Station to hand out leaflets, while passing by the edges of the Bo-ai Special District, they are warned and disrupted by police.


Nov. 17

Internal KMT caucus meeting at the Legislative Yuan agrees to revise the Parade and Assembly Law to a registration system.

During a hastily conviened meeting at Liberty Square that evening, a heated debate occurs over future plans and organization.


Nov. 18

The National Police Administration completes its self-assessment of performance during Chen Yun-lin's visit, concluding that they had "successfully completed the objectives of protecting the delegates' safety and ensuring the smooth completion of the meeting", and that while a few officers should be trained in precise enforcement techniques, there was no abuse during enforcement.

Police demand the media provide them with photographs and videos showing suspected agitators during the violent confrontations. The Association of Taiwan Journalists state that they refuse to be instruments of the police, and proceed to the National Police Administration to present their grievances, but do not receive a response.


Nov. 19

The Legislative Yuan Internal Administration Committee reviews the proposed amended Parade and Assembly Law. The version presented by executive agencies still requires three days notification, and retains provisions for restricted areas, government power to declare assemblies illegal, and power to disperse. The Wild Strawberries and the NGOs express their strong opposition, and propose adopting a system of "voluntary notification".

Professor Yen Liur-fen of the music department at the Taipei National University of the Arts leads several musicians to Liberty Square, where they hold a small concert in support of the students.

The "Funeral for Human Rights" is completed. Starting on Thursday, the ceremony is open to the public to mourn the death of human rights.

A seminar is held in the evening at the NTU social sciences department to explain the objectives of the movement.


Nov. 20

The Judicial Reform Foundation holds a press conference at Liberty Square, establishing a group of lawyers to fight police brutality, and initiating a second wave of lawsuits against police abuses. They call on President Ma to stop feigning ignorance of the situation.

The Wild Strawberry "Taiwan Human Rights Mourning Committee" sends obituaries to the Presidential Office, the Executive Yuan, the National Security Bureau, the National Police Agency, and the KMT and DPP, inviting them to a "funeral service for our human rights".

Beitou Precinct Chief Lee Han-ching, responsible for shuttering the Sunrise Record Store, is questioned by the Taipei City Council, and denies all allegations of overzealous enforcement.


Nov. 21

Legislative Yuan Internal Administration Committee convener Wu Yu-sheng visits Liberty Square, handing students an invitation to the public hearing scheduled for 11/27. At the evening meeting, the students decide to send representatives.

The Ministry of Justice presents new regulations requiring schools and other similar public organizations select "ethics officers", raising allegations that the Martial Law era informant system (人二室) was being resurrected.


Nov. 22

Famed scholar Ronald Dworkin visits Liberty Square to better understand the situation.

In the evening, students hold a candlelight vigil to mourn human rights in Taiwan.

A demonstration is held in Kaohsiung with skits mocking President Ma, demanding that he turn his thinking around.


Nov. 23

The human rights funeral service is held in the morning, with several NGOs also participating. The scene is solemn and sad. The planned funeral procession is replaced with a stationary casket, due to lack of funeral home help.

DPP Chairwoman Tsai Ying-wen arrives at Liberty Square to participate in the activities, and publicly aplogizes for the failure of the DPP to amend the Parade and Assembly Law during its time as the ruling party.

As part of the long term protest, the Wild Strawberries formally establish the Wild Strawberry band, erect a tower and four prefabricated buildings (the newsroom, kitchen, exhibit room, and video room), and and perform several protest skits. Professor Yen Liur-fen of the Taipei National University of the Arts holds a "Musicians supporting the Wild Strawberries" concert, with several musicians and composers participating.


Nov. 24

American human rights activist Lynn Miles visits to express her concern, and agrees to help mobilize international support.

Representatives from academia and various NGOs march to the Control Yuan to file complaints against the directors of the National Police Agency and National Security Bureau. Their petitions are received by Control Yuan member Huang Huang-hsiung. The participating professors and NGO members return to Liberty Square to update the students on progress with social mobilization.

The website of the Wild Strawberries in Tainan is suddenly shut down without warning, but returns two days later, after complaints are filed.

Administrators at National Taiwan University issue orders for a "neutral, apolitical campus where the Wild Strawberries may not enter", and refuse to allow students to borrow equipment to film a documentary.



Nov. 25

The seminar originally planned to be held at the National Taiwan University of Science and Technology is canceled, after campus administrators refuse to loan campus space, following concerns from various faculty members.

All police precinct chiefs involved in the operations during Chen Yun-lin's visit are promoted by the National Police Administration.


Nov. 26

Wild Strawberries from Kaohsiung visit Taipei to update the students at Liberty Square on recent developments, and convey the support and good wishes of Wild Strawberries outside Taipei. The atmosphere is enthusiastic as the students learn to sing the "Wild Strawberry Fight Song".

Students at the sit-in form groups of 5 to 7, to increase unity and the general level of organization.

The Wild Strawberries return to the Executive Yuan, with groups of two alternately sitting in protest for one hour each.


Nov. 27

Wild Strawberries send representatives to attend the public hearing by the Legislative Yuan Internal Administration Committee concerning revisions to the Parade and Assembly Law. While the Legeslative Yuan states that the law may be amended during this legislative session, the positions of the students and the legislators still cannot be reconciled, with the students insisting on a voluntary notification system.

In the afternoon, Losheng Sanitarium support groups proceed to the Executive Yuan to protest demolition of the sanitarium by the government, which reneged on its earlier promises. Students from the Wild Strawberry Movement also attend to show support.

Wild Strawberry seminar at Chang Gung University.


Nov. 28

At noon, Wild Strawberry students hold a march on the National Taiwan University Campus, calling on all students to stand up and defend human rights.

Wild Strawberries in Central Taiwan decide to end the sit-in the next day, and move instead to mobilizing support on campus, and deepening the roots of democracy and human rights.


Nov. 29

Veteran social activist Chien Hsi-chieh holds a lecture on nonviolent resistance at Liberty Square, in preparation for the large rally on 12/7.

Documentary film on Lo-sheng(樂生) Sanitarium preservation efforts is shown, to gain support for groups protesting its imminent demolition.


Nov. 30

The "Wild Strawberry Musical Memorial" is held beginning at 10AM, with several independent bands and musicians participating to show their support for the students, and their concern for society.

Wild Strawberries in Kaohsiung hold a protest march criticizing the return of authoritarianism, and the suppression of human rights.


Dec. 1

At 8AM, two Wild Strawberry students lie on the driveway in front of the Executive Yuan with protest signs, protesting the government ignoring the students' demands. The two are detained by police under the Social Order Preservation Law, and interrogated at the police station.

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