Wed, Jul 03, 2013 - Page 12 News List

Refugees “squatting” on a gold mine

In the first of a two-part series, the ‘Taipei Times’ examines the history of Huaguang Community and the controversial demolition of the neighborhood from the viewpoint of residents

By Ho Yi  /  Staff reporter

For Mr Lee, memories of the fire remain hauntingly vivid.

“It was around midnight. I stood there, watching it burn. Then the power went out. You couldn’t see anything except the flames, devouring one house after another,” he recalls.

A dealer in stamps and coins, Mr Lee lost his collection — his entire savings — in the fire. He has never restored his half burned-down house and has relied on sleeping pills ever since.

Like Mr Lee, Brother Lee has been given anonymity to protect his privacy. They say that if their true identities are known, they will become the target of government harassment or retaliation. Outspoken individuals are often seen as troublemakers, residents say. One example is the Lin (林) family who ran an auto repair shop for 30 years in Huaguang. They closed the business due to mounting fines of over NT$6 million. But the family kept the shop open as a meeting point for local residents, activists, NGO workers and concerned citizens. It was demolished in April. The Lin family was later sued by the government for fraudulent conveyance.

In tomorrow’s story, the Taipei Times will examine the controversies and various issues surrounding the demolition of the Huaguang Community

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