Tue, Feb 25, 2003 - Page 8 News List

Letter

Listen to peace protesters

Upon reading international news about anti-war protests on Feb. 15, I noticed that very few news agencies mentioned anything about the hundreds of protesters who converged in Taipei in front of the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT). Local media companies seem to downplay the fact that there are many people in in this country who oppose the US going to war in Iraq. In fact, many people in this country are against war, period.

Among the dozens of citizens' groups represented at the anti-war protest in Taipei were the Taiwan Confederation of Trade Unions (TCTU) and Peacetime. Both groups have interesting insights on this nation's relationship to war, a topic that is rarely discussed in the media.

The TCTU reminded people at the protest that this nation has a long history of dependency on the US and even provided financial support for the recent US attacks on Afghanistan. The group also warned that Taiwan's media blatantly plays to the tune of whatever information the US government and US corporate media provide, and that people should look to other information sources to educate themselves on international events.

The TCTU appeals to President Chen Shiu-bian (陳水扁) to openly express Taiwan's opposition to a US war on Iraq and feels that an anti-war stance is the optimal survival strategy for a small country in a key arena of international politics.

Peacetime founder Chien Hsi-chieh (簡錫土皆), also present at the protest, says people in Taiwan have never experienced a "peace movement," and that there is very little peace education in this country. Most education concerning international relations comes through TV, and most TV news has very little international coverage and gives greater coverage to negative occurrences.

We know all about war, as it has become commonplace in our everyday lives -- the news tells us all about wars and weapons deals, Hollywood relays stories on how to kill more effectively and we see jet fighters and destroyers racing in the skies and seas. But what do we know about peace?

While certain (wealthy) political interest groups would rather have the media downplay opposition to US aggression in Iraq, the rest of us want to be included in Taiwan's dialogue concerning the US government's despotism throughout the world. Many people in this country are clear that this war is about oil, and as Taiwan is headed in the direction of renewable energy and reduced use of plastic, there is no reason for it to support US control of the world's oil reserves.

There is actually a huge undercurrent of anti-war sentiment in Taiwan. Why isn't this in the papers? Is the nation's media so afraid of US influence that it would prefer to keep the people uninformed about discontent with the US government?

Peacetime is now collecting signatures for a petition to be delivered to the AIT, asking them to tell the Bush administration that the people of Taiwan oppose another war in the Persian Gulf or anywhere.

Meng Lei

Taipei

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