Sat, Dec 27, 2003 - Page 3 News List

Nuclear protest campaign launched

REFORM Former DPP chairman Lin I-hsiun said that, although he would never encourage people to set themselves alight, `stronger' protest could become necessary

By Chang Yun-ping  /  STAFF REPORTER

Former Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) chairman Lin I-hsiung (林義雄) yesterday said hunger strikes and self-immolation could ultimately become part of a campaign to demand that the ruling and opposition parties abide by their promises of halving the number of legislative seats and eliminating the use of nuclear power.

Lin, executive director of the Nuclear [Plant] 4 Referendum Initiative Association, yesterday announced a three-month campaign which is scheduled to start with a sit-in demonstration and hunger strike in front of the Chinese Nationalist Party's (KMT) headquarters and the Legislature in early January.

This protest action will continue until the March 20 presidential election.

According to Lin, the campaign is aimed at restoring credibility to Taiwan and putting pressure on both the DPP and KMT to keep their promises that they would reduce the number of legislative seats by half and carry out a 2001 legislative resolution to gradually eliminate the use of nuclear power.

Lin yesterday said the sit-in and hunger strike would take place at the headquarters of the KMT, because the party has a majority in the Legislature.

Prior to the 2001 legislative election, he said, parties of all stripes had promised to promote the policy of reducing the number of legislative seats and to build a nuclear-free homeland.

He urged concerned parties to make an effort to at least pass a proposal to halve the number of legislative seats from the current 225 to 113.

Lin said although limitations in the Referendum Law (公民投票法) might prevent Chen holding a referendum on the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant issue, this would give people the opportunity to decide for themselves.

"If no concrete results are achieved, we would consider more solemn and strong forms of protest, including long hunger strikes, kneeling down and self-immolation," Lin said yesterday.

These remarks yesterday trig-gered fear and speculation over whether he would actually employ such a drastic means of protest.

Lin responded that he by no means encouraged self-immolation.

"Spiritually I respect the self-immolator's sacrifice and contribution, but I'll never encourage such a drastic form of protest as self-immolation. Self-immolation is simply one of the many forms of non-violent protest," Lin said.

He said what he meant by "more solemn and strong" forms of protest was that, over the years, the association has always conducted non-violent demonstrations as a matter of principle.

Most likely the protests will take the form of rallies, marches, visits with political figures and hunger strikes.

"The reason we are initiating this campaign is to urge all political polities and political figures to keep their promises, because the people are entitled to examine these promises," he said.

The campaign was to start today with a visit by all the members of the association to the KMT headquarters.

A five-day hunger strike will be staged there from Jan. 12 to Jan. 17. From Jan. 24 to Jan. 29 the association will visit the KMT, DPP and the Legislature again and from March 1 to March 10 another hunger strike will be held.

If it comes to that, the possible stronger protests are likely to be conducted from March 11 to March 20, deputy convener of the association Chen Li-kuei (陳麗貴) said.

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