Tag Archives: political

Falun Gong Demonstration, Jhubei

Last Saturday, I was sitting inside my apartment when I heard a marching band go by. Looking out to see what it was, I saw people exercising in the street and a costumed drum group. Soon enough, I saw the familiar expression “Fa Lun Da Fa Hao” (法輪大法好) or “Fa Lun Da Fa is Good” – a message often repeated in Taiwan where this “new religious movement” is free from persecution, unlike in mainland China where practitioners of this blend of Buddhism, Taoism, and exercise have been tortured, imprisoned, and killed. Also known as Fa Lun Gong (法輪功), the movement itself is very peaceful and lacks any real controversy on the surface. While there are claims of wrongdoing made by the Chinese Communist Party, it seems that the group’s exponential growth in the 90′s is what most concerned the communist government.

While I did not follow the parade very far, I did catch all of it as it went through central Jhubei being protected by the Taiwanese police. This was not a political demonstration primarily, although there were some politically-oriented signs. Instead, it simply seemed like a way to show off what the movement is about. I was welcomed by some of the people following and covering the march as they answered any questions I had with a great deal of respect and excitement that I would be interested in their march.

Above: a set of banners proclaiming that the next group would be an exercise team (seen on top).

Above: this banner states the fact that in 1999, Falun Gong had more members than the Chinese Communist Party. 1999 was the first major year of crackdowns against the movement in mainland China.

Above: a policeman watches as the parade goes by. Religious and political freedoms are heavily protected in Taiwan, and seeing this is gratifying.

I have to say that as China grows and becomes a world power, it has to deal with the fights it wants and the fights it needs. It will be interesting to see how and if Taiwan influences China in the coming years as we see the two countries creating economic ties. While one can always hope for more freedom anywhere in the world, it’s important to keep these things in mind as we as Western countries decide who to deal with when it comes to international politics.

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Nuclear Power Protest in Taipei

Last Sunday, I attended a protest against nuclear power that took place in Taipei near Chiang Kai-shek Memorial after finding out about it through photographer Craig Ferguson. The website gave me the basics on location, though it did not prepare me for the massive amount of people who took part in the march.

My basic objective was to get an idea of what politics are like in Taiwan. Since this blog often sees posts on religion, I figured I’d cover another offensive topic, anyway!

Disclaimer and General Notes

I do want to send out a general disclaimer that I didn’t necessarily agree (or disagree) with the message, though the protest itself was fascinating. As an American who used to teach US government to high school students, I find foreign points of view on concepts like human rights and political protest to be pretty interesting. This was the system working as it should, if anything, and people really felt like their voice mattered. It was a great feeling, especially in the midst of the protests going on in the Middle East and the reactions of several governments to those incidents.

Police were present, but only needed to protect the protest, if anything. People were peaceful and the police stayed out of their way. It couldn’t have gone any better.

The Energy Issue

Taiwan’s response to this topic is timely. In addition to the incident at Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant in Japan, the Taiwanese have been debating on what sources of energy will propel their island-nation. There has been talk of another power plant being built, and with the small size of the island, it is sure to be a heated and tough debate. I hope that if/when the power plants are built, that the incident in Japan at least intensifies the need for safety and efficiency.

Photos

Taipei Nuclear Power Protest, 31

As seen with the banner above, the theme was “I love Taiwan – no nuclear disaster” or 我愛台灣、不要核災. Political and religious leaders – including the priest above – were put in front of the march which easily included thousands of people.

Taipei Nuclear Power Protest, 30

Taipei Nuclear Power Protest, 35

I was pretty impressed by the general diversity of this crowd. I noticed quite a few older people in the group as well as younger children who were encouraged through the public notice to take part. The question “what about the children?” was often asked by demonstrators.

You’ll notice the armbands/headbands these people are wearing. Since my Chinese is “bu hao” (不好), I only knew that it said something about nuclear disaster and Taiwan. I was given one of these in the beginning and pocketed it, wanting to remain neutral. Soon enough, another person gave me ANOTHER, and I decided to put it on. With this, I at least got more photo ops and, maybe more importantly, people stopped giving me more yellow armbands! I guess that would raise ethical questions for professional journalists, so perhaps that’s a benefit of “just” hosting a tiny blog.

Taipei Nuclear Power Protest, 41

This woman, stuck in traffic, is watching the parade’s “green shirts” about midway through the march.

Taipei Nuclear Power Protest, 62

These signs were distributed widely – basically saying “we love Taiwan – (say) no to nuclear disaster.”

Taipei Nuclear Power Protest, 24

These young people were listening to a speech at the beginning of the march.

Taipei Nuclear Power Protest, 6

At the beginning of the march, this man was posting placards on the main truck that took the leaders of the protest through Taipei.

Taipei Nuclear Power Protest, 7

Taipei Nuclear Power Protest, 14

Taipei Nuclear Power Protest, 13

Taipei Nuclear Power Protest, 49

I noticed that processing this set was relatively easy. I did make some judgments on whether or not to give a black and white filter to the shot – and decided against this most of the time. I thought this worked extremely well here, with the contrast of the sign sticking out in spite of the large amount of activity in the background here.

Taipei Nuclear Power Protest, 22

This is the Chiang Kai-shek memorial gate behind some protesters at the beginning of the march. This site makes sense for political protest – it represents Taiwan’s national history and is a large piece of land adjacent to some main roadways. I was hoping for a wider angle than my 35mm prime lens, but changing lenses was impossible in this crowd and moving back would not have worked.

Again, this protest was a fascinating and enlightening event. It’ll be interesting to see what impact it has politically and where Taiwan’s energy policies go in the future.

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