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.
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.
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.
This woman, stuck in traffic, is watching the parade’s “green shirts” about midway through the march.
These signs were distributed widely – basically saying “we love Taiwan – (say) no to nuclear disaster.”
These young people were listening to a speech at the beginning of the march.
At the beginning of the march, this man was posting placards on the main truck that took the leaders of the protest through Taipei.
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.
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.