I hate to dwell on the Taiwanese protest issue, especially since I'm not in Taipei to personally witness it. But I had to skype my mom last night to see about her welfare. She was under the hot sun all day to protest police actions limiting public speech.
Some may ask what the big deal is. Why are the Taiwanese protesting a trade deal that will expand direct flights and shipping lanes between Taiwan and China? Perhaps they're not. Perhaps they are protesting against the rollback of hard-won civil rights. One has to remember that as recent as 1987, the island nation was governed by a dictator under marshal law.
To protect a visiting Chinese diplomat, the Taiwanese government deployed 7,000 - 9,000 police in riot gears, erected wired barricades and blocked off several square kilometers of downtown Taipei, detained individuals for expressing their political views about China, and shuttered an area business without properly served warrants. One does not engage in such actions without eliciting a response from a free people. Reminiscent of Beijing on June 4, 1989, the university students have started an around-the-clock sit-in and are being dragged away one-by-one by the police for their troubles.
Most English-language press gave awful coverage to what's going on in Taipei. The New York Times outlined the inked trade deal in an article, and added that the Chinese envoy was met with "a handful of protests." The best part - one of the contributing writers wrote the story from Paris. The South China Morning Post out of Hong Kong focused on police officers injured by the protesters and a quick scan of the Sydney Morning Herald produced nothing on the subject. All this nothingness about a demonstration that drew over 100,000 marchers. I know, Taiwan is not my country. But I have roots there and like to cheer for democracy advocates.
I've turned to on-the-ground bloggers who are providing primary accounts of what occurred in Taipei the last few days. The Far-Eastern Sweet Potato wrote an eloquent summary of what that writer saw at the Thursday protest. Emotions came to me when the writer wrote "Perhaps no scene touched me more than that of a middle-aged police officer crying as he surveyed what was going on, caught between his responsibility to his troops and the people he is supposed to be serving." Mucha Man, another blogger in Taiwan, took some fantastic photos of the protest.
Thanks to Baino's Friday Fuckwit, I had a smile this morning.