Despite a promise by the Presidential Office last week to help farmers in Jhunan Township (竹南), Miaoli County, who oppose a plan by the county government to take over their land to make room for a science park expansion project, the county government moved in excavators to dig up farmland in the area yesterday morning without notifying residents.
Several residents of Dapu Borough (大埔) in Jhunan, a farming village, have been campaigning against the Miaoli County Government's plan, introduced in 2008, to take over their farmland to make way for the expansion of the Jhunan Science Park.
Dapu residents and their supporters held demonstrations in front of the Presidential Office and the Control Yuan on Wednesday asking for help, after excavators sent by the county government partially flattened the rice paddies of farmers who refused to give their land to the county government earlier this month.
At the time, the Presidential Office said it would look into the matter and reply to the residents within a week.
“Look at what the county government is doing now, even before a week has passed,” Dapu Self-Help Association spokeswoman Yeh Hsiu-tao (葉秀桃) told the Taipei Times by telephone.
At about 9am, close to 100 police officers were dispatched to block off roads to Dapu. Soon afterward, excavators moved into rice paddies that had been partially destroyed earlier this month.
“This time, they flattened everything, trucked away mud and rice plants, and turned the farms into a big construction site,” said Chen Wei-ting (陳為廷), a National Tsing Hua University student who witnessed the scene.
A video clip shot and uploaded by a self-help association member showed police officers trying to prevent the farmers from getting to their land and taking away those who insisted on doing so.
“One woman was taken in a police car and released somewhere on the coast kilometers away from the village,” Chen said.
Huang Chih-chun (黃智群), deputy director of the county government's Economic Development Department, said the government's action were “completely legal.”
“We completed the process of transferring land ownership in February, so now the land is under the name of the county government,” Huang said. “They shouldn't have planted rice on county government land in the first place.”
Although many landowners have yet to turn in land ownership certificates to the county government, the county government said it had completed the legal process for taking over the land, and that compensation had already been transferred to an account from which the Dapu farmers could withdraw whenever they wanted.