Living in fear in Taiwan
I wish to share with you an account of something that happened last Saturday in New Taipei City (新北市).
My wife and I took our children for a walk at about 6pm. I left home earlier with both children because my wife had to make some preparations for them.
When I crossed a street, I noticed a man taking two children for a ride on a scooter. They were not wearing crash helmets, so I remarked he shouldn’t be transporting them in this way. By that time, my wife had already rejoined us.
We exchanged some heated words. I am a father of two and understand the importance of safety on scooters and I try to instill it in others.
In the meantime, the man took out his cellphone and I said we could call the police if he wishes. He said “OK” and that he was about to do it. He was also shouting out that I am a foreigner and this was not my country, that I should go back to my homeland and that there was no place for me in Taiwan. He spiced it up with a lot of obscenities, which I couldn’t comprehend, but was told about it by my wife.
We left the man making the phone call and resumed strolling, unaware of any danger. We had been happily engaged in conversation when suddenly the man appeared to the right of me. At the same moment, I felt a strong blow to the back of my head. I turned around and noticed the man had brought along two accomplices. One of them, a particularly aggressive man with glasses, hit me on the head with a brick.
I was trying to reason with them because our children were frightened and kept crying and my wife was shouting at them to leave me alone. I said not to get our kids involved because they are young, but the offenders wouldn’t listen. They kept coming at me.
By that time a crowd had gathered and they were shouting at the men to leave us alone. Seeing that more people were getting involved, the attackers left us after dealing me a final blow to my face.
My wife had earlier called for her father and he had just arrived, so we all went to the police station to report the incident. My wife and my kids were really scared and I was just thinking about how to take care of them. I was not concerned about the wounds I had sustained.
The police were trying to be nice, but I had problems communicating with them as none spoke English well enough. I asked my wife to translate.
In my opinion, the police could have acted more professionally. It was only after my wife had complained that they agreed to go and inspect the scene. The attackers had left the bricks there, but the police didn’t secure them as evidence. It was my father-in-law who brought them to the police station later on. A negligence of that magnitude shouldn’t have happened.
The police were also viewing the footage from the closed-circuit television cameras located at and near the scene, but as of now nothing about the altercation has reportedly been found.
We spent more than two hours at the police station answering questions and we caused a great deal of interest, but I understood it was more to do with me being a foreigner than a genuine intention of trying to help.
The children were terribly scared and the older one was running around constantly and fell, hurting his forehead. The younger one couldn’t sleep that night.
The next day, I went to a hospital to have some checks done and also had a brain scan, but nothing was found to be wrong. I was told to immediately report back to the hospital if any symptoms like vomiting or dizziness appeared. I am also going to take another test in about a month.
Being a foreigner here, I stand out like a sore thumb and I or my family could be targeted at any time. My wife is afraid to leave home and I can’t blame her. If things like that occur and are allowed to happen in a society that claims to be educated and hospitable, no law-abiding citizen can feel safe.
If remarking about the safety of their own kids results in an assault like the one just described, I dread to think what might happen if someone accidentally steps on their toes.
I have traveled to many countries and lived abroad for some time and have never had such a traumatizing experience. This man’s xenophobic and obscene behavior was appalling and if that’s the way Taiwanese society feels toward foreigners, then it’s the last place on Earth I want to be.
“Taiwan Next” seems an irony in this case. “Taiwan Never” would make a better slogan.
I’d like to believe it was an isolated case and won’t happen again, but it’s hard with a wife and children fearing for their lives every day and night.
New Taipei City
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