More than 1,000 people from around the nation yesterday rallied in front of the Miaoli County Government to protest the forced demolition of private homes in Dapu Borough (大埔) as well as development projects across the county.
“[Miaoli County Commissioner] Liu Cheng-hung [劉政鴻], step down!” “We, the people of Miaoli, are ready!” “We will tear down the government today!” the crowd chanted during the rally, as those affected by the county’s development projects and activists condemned the county government and the county commissioner.
“I am sorry,” Yeh Min-hui (葉敏慧), a resident of the county’s Houlong Township (後龍), told the crowd. “I would like to apologize because I am from Houlong, and Liu is also from Houlong. I am sorry that Houlong raised such a horrible person, but we’re also very ashamed of him.”
Yeh said that much of the land near the site of the Miaoli high-speed rail development project has been appropriated by the county government, with many houses demolished. However, the houses of Liu and his family are still standing.
“If you [Liu] can keep your house, why can’t others keep theirs too?” Yeh asked.
She also panned Liu for saying that people from outside of Miaoli should not involve themselves in the protests.
“Whether you are from Miaoli or from elsewhere, we are all Taiwanese. We all love this nation and we will protect it from inappropriate development projects,” Yeh said.
Li Teng-hsin (黎登鑫), a college professor from Miaoli County’s Sihu Township (西湖), said Liu was forcibly appropriating farmland.
“Liu always insists that he is acting according to the law, but no law enjoys a higher status than the Constitution, which protects people’s right to survival,” Li said. “Farmland is the most important thing on which farmers depend for a living.”
Liao Pen-chuan (廖本全), an associate professor at National Taipei University’s Department of Real Estate and Built Environment, said the rally was fully justified as local and central governments have lost their legitimacy.
“We’re fully justified to protest, because the governments — whether on the local or central levels — have lost their legitimacy,” Liao said. “We’re fully justified, because we are defending the rights of all people in Taiwan.”
“We want to tell those in power that the pain of the people, the land and the environment in Miaoli is the pain of us all,” he said.
The demonstrators also held a mock funeral for Liu, hoping to bid farewell to the county commissioner.
Despite Miaoli County authorities turning down applications for the rally, more than 1,000 people still turned out to vent their anger toward the county government’s forcible demolition of private homes and expropriation of farmland for development projects.
Unable to stop the rally, the county softened its stance and allowed it to run until 8pm.
However, the protest lasted to 9:30pm under police surveillance, and afterward, demonstrators planned small-scale protests at Liu’s residence and other locations in Taipei and Miaoli.