Tue, Apr 01, 2014 - Page 4 News List

TRADE PACT SIEGE: Rallies held across globe for Sunflower movement

GLOBAL REACH:Berlin, Frankfurt, Vienna, Zurich, Paris, London, Edinburgh, Madrid and Stockholm, as well as cities in Australia, Japan, the US and Canada all held rallies

By Jason Pan  /  Staff writer with agencies

Students occupying the chamber of the Legislative Yuan in Taipei yesterday hold a banner bearing the words “protect Taiwan” alongside a map of Taiwan signed by students from Hong Kong universities.

Photo: Lin Cheng-kung, Taipei Times

Taiwanese students and expatriates in 49 cities across 21 countries organized rallies timed to coincide with Sunday’s demonstration in Taipei, as part of a global networking campaign to support the “Sunflower student movement.”

Calling it “24-Hour Relay Across the Globe in Support of Taiwan,” the worldwide rallies saw Taiwanese and other participants shouting the same slogans as their counterparts in Taipei: “Protecting Taiwan’s Democracy,” and “Withdraw the Trade Deal,” which gained press coverage and wide circulation among online social media.

Some students held up placards that read: “Taiwan is not for sale,” “Transparency, Democracy and National Security for Taiwan” in support of the movement which started with protesters occupying the legislature in Taipei on March 18.

The worldwide networking rally began in Australia and New Zealand on Sunday morning, with events in Auckland, Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Canberra, Adelaide and other locations.

The international relay proceeded through the Japanese cities of Tokyo, Kyoto and Fukuoka, South Korea’s Seoul and Busan, Hong Kong, the Philippines and other Asian countries.

Hong Kong organizers said the protesters received an enthusiastic response, with more than 1,000 people joining the rally.

After some speeches, they marched from Causeway Bay to the Charter Garden next to the Legislative Council building.

As the day progressed, Taiwanese in Europe joined the global effort, with notable rallies in Berlin, Frankfurt, Vienna, Zurich, Paris, London, Edinburgh, Madrid and Stockholm.

The relay culminated in North America, with US events taking place in New York, Boston, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Seattle and other cities, as well as Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver in Canada.

More than 100 Taiwanese students and Taiwanese-Americans gathered in front of Washington’s Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office.

Despite the freezing rain and subzero temperatures, they performed street theater skits, handed out sunflowers to passersby and delivered a petition to the office.

Washington organizer Chao Tse-hua (趙澤華) said he is a student at Pennsylvania State University.

“We drove four hours from Pennsylvania to DC. We just want those students in Taiwan fighting for democracy to know that people abroad support their cause,” Chao said.

In New York City’s Times Square, about 400 people joined a mass sing-along and conveyed their messages in slogans, while holding sunflowers.

In the UK, more than 300 students and overseas Taiwanese headed to Trafalgar Square in London. They presented musical entertainment to the audience and vocalized their support of the Sunflower movement.

The event in Berlin took place at Alexanderplatz, a public square and transport hub, and was organized by Taiwanese university students.

Calling themselves the “3.30 Berlin Action Group,” organizers said more than 300 people joined in their rally, with a series of public discussions and lectures on the cross-strait agreement, the pros and cons of free trade, Taiwan’s human rights situation and its democratic governance system.

The largest event in Japan was held at Tokyo’s Yoyogi Park, where more than 700 people joined a rally.

Taiwanese students and expatriates in Tokyo were joined by their Japanese friends to call for the withdrawal of the cross-strait pact, shouting slogans in support of the Sunflower movement.

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