Sun, Dec 13, 2009 - Page 2 News List

KAOHSIUNG INCIDENT: Thousands remember Incident

HARD-WON FREEDOM Annette Lu and Frank Hsieh urged the public to safeguard democracy in the face of the KMT's China-friendly policies

By Vincent Y. Chao  /  STAFF REPORTER , KAOHSIUNG

Jhongshan Road in Kaohsiung City is blocked off as former dissidents and senior politicians give speeches at an event marking the 30th anniversary of the Kaohsiung Incident yesterday.

PHOTO: CHANG CHUNG-YIH, TAIPEI TIMES

Thousands of people flooded the streets of Kaohsiung City yesterday evening to mark the 30th anniversary of the Kaohsiung Incident.

Speaking to a crowd in a sealed-off area of Jhongshan Road beside the Formosa Boulevard MRT station — the same place where political dissidents calling for democratic reforms were arrested 30 years ago in what came to be known as the Kaohsiung Incident — former vice president Annette Lu (呂秀蓮) and former premier Frank Hsieh (謝長廷) urged the public to safeguard democracy and the freedoms they now enjoy.

Lu and Hsieh played prominent roles in the incident, with Lu one of the Kaohsiung Eight, or the eight high profile leaders of the protest — and Hsieh later joining the team of attorneys for their defense.

Other members of the defense team — including Chen Chi-sen (陳繼盛), Chang Chun-hsiung (張俊雄) and You Ching (尤清) — also attended the event.

A visibly emotional Lu, who had been sentenced by a military court to 12 years in prison, told the crowd that the freedoms taken for granted today had to be sustained through continued sacrifices. She called on the public to defend democracy against “attacks” by the government, referring to the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) government's plan to sign an economic cooperation framework agreement (ECFA) with China.

“The KMT's eagerness to conduct secret meetings and agreements with China” shows that the party does not take democratic values seriously, Lu said.

Critics say the agreement would put Taiwan’s sovereignty at risk and lay the foundation for unification with China. The government, however, insists it would be purely an economic agreement with no political strings attached.

“The KMT government seems ready to sell out Taiwan to achieve peaceful unification with China,” Lu said.

These views were echoed by Hsieh, who said that the nation's hard-earned freedoms were under constant pressure from tht KMT government. He added that the public “needs to act ... to preserve our freedoms.”

“Kaohsiung is the birthplace of our nation’s democracy, I hope that we can once again show the nation our values in next year's elections,” Hsieh said, referring to the municipal elections next December.

Jacklin Lee (李錦英), one of thousands who attended the event, told the Taipei Times: “We came out tonight because we love Taiwan ... These people have sacrificed themselves for us, of course, we need to support them.”

Lee said she lived directly across the street from where the arrests were made 30 years ago.

“At the time, we all had a feeling that arrests were going to be made, but the fact that they actually had the audacity to do so still surprised us,” she said.

Chiu Huang-chuan (邱晃泉) agreed, saying: “I find it hard to believe that the same [party] which locked up the protesters for sedition is now siding with China instead of Taiwan.”

“Society needs to come together, reach a consensus to support Taiwan [against] these moves,” Chiu said.

The organizers of the event estimated that more than 10,000 attended the commemoration last night.

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