Sun, Mar 27, 2005 - Page 1 News List

Standing up for peace

In what is being called the largest protest to ever be held in a single city in Taiwan, around 1 million people turned out on the streets to protest China's `Anti-Secession' Law

By Jewel Huang and Huang Tai-lin  /  STAFF REPORTERS

Demonstrators from across the country participate in yesterday's March for Democracy and Peace to Protect Taiwan, organized to protest China's ``Anti-Secession'' Law, gather at Ketagelan Boulevard.

PHOTO: FANG PIN-CHAO, TAIPEI TIMES

Around 1 million people, led by political leaders including President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁), former President Lee Teng-hui (李登輝) and Premier Frank Hsieh (謝長廷), yesterday took to the streets of Taipei to protest China's "Anti-Secession" Law, which sanctions the use of "non-peaceful means" against Taiwan.

Participants from around the country expressed their abhorrence of China's threats and their hope for peace, saying that the Taiwanese people's voice should be heard by the whole world.

Launched by the Taiwan Democratic Alliance for Peace, a group made up of 34 civil groups and over 500 societies, the march yesterday created a record turnout for a demonstration in a single city in the history of Taiwan.

According to the Associated Press, about 1 million people took part in the march, while organizers said about 3,500 tour buses carrying participants coming from around the country poured into the capital city. Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Chairman Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌), one of the organizers, said that more than 1 million people took part in the march yesterday.

Former president Lee yesterday marched on route No. 7, with the "Anti-Aggression Team," which was organized by pro-independence groups. He walked with the marchers for about 2km along Hoping E Road near Da-An Forest Park (大安森林公園). Seemingly in a good mood, Lee smiled and greeted people the entire way, stressing that he was not wearing a bulletproof vest.

The massive demonstration started from 10 different places in Taipei City at 2:30pm, with each route given a different name and a different designation to symbolize confronting the 10 clauses in the Chinese law. In order to control the speed of the 10 teams of marchers, the organizers employed Global Positioning System technology to make sure the procession did not descend into chaos.

No major accidents or conflicts were reported yesterday.

Along the way, marchers chanted slogans like "Defend the freedom of Taiwan" and "Taiwan is not part of China" as they streamed through the city. Many people brought their pets along, costuming dogs with cloth and balloons bearing written slogans condemning China's legislation.

At about 5:15pm, President Chen stepped onto the stage to chant the slogans "protect democracy, love peace and defend Taiwan" and to sing the song She's our baby with hundreds of thousands of demonstrators who waved green flags and placards.

Chen did not make a speech, as he had previously vowed, and no major political figures delivered speeches at the rally.

SONGS OF FREEDOM

Before Chen's appearance on stage, the atmosphere climaxed when the leaders of civic groups and political leaders led the participants in singing songs in chorus in various languages to highlight the people of Taiwan's hope for peace and democracy.

As the melodious notes of She's our baby, sung in Hoklo, Friends and We are family, sung in Mandarin, Hakka's true colors, sung in Hakka, and We shall overcome sung in English, wafted through the warm air of the spring afternoon, many of the people singing had tears in their eyes.

Although the participants in the march were of many different ages, ethnic groups and nationalities, they all said that they did not approve of China's threatening Taiwan with the Anti-Secession Law.

"The purpose of the march is for us to come out and say aloud that we are firmly opposed to China's Anti-Secession Law, and that we want peace and we don't want war," said a pharmacist surnamed Yeh (), who works in the Chang Gung Memorial Hospital "Today's march also symbolizes a non-violent movement and shows our love of the land."

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