More than 100 children and parents celebrated Women and Children’s Day yesterday by speaking out against state violence and voicing their support for student activists occupying the legislative floor.
“Mister President, you cannot use violence,” “Mr President, you cannot damage our democracy,” “Mr President, you cannot lie,” “Mr President, you should apologize when you do something wrong,” they wrote.
Penned not by adult protesters nor student activists, these messages were instead written by elementary and kindergarten school children addressing President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九).
For the most part, protesters in support of student activists occupying the legislative floor have mostly been adults and students, but Amnesty International (AI) Taiwan’s children’s group and the Association of Parents Participating in Education in Taiwan yesterday co-organized an event that invited children and parents to celebrate Children’s Day by learning about democracy, human rights, and non-violence.
“We want our children to understand that no one should ever use violence against someone holding a different view, that violence is not okay to solve an issue,” said Wu Jia-zhen (吳佳臻), whose child is a member of AI Taiwan’s children’s group, and has helped to organized the event. “Of course we should say: ‘No’ when the government and the police use violence, especially because it’s their duty to protect people.”
The group first listened to the children’s book NO authored by David McPhail — which discusses the issue of violence — read aloud by Lin Chen-mei (林真美), a writer and translator of children’s books.
After the reading, children were encouraged to write messages to the president on postcards.
The children and their parents then walked to the Presidential Office Building, hoping to deliver the messages, but were stopped by the police in front of barbed-wire barricades.
Unable to continue, the children and parents hung their postcards on the barricades in front of the Presidential Office Building on Ketagalan Boulevard.
“Schools tell the children that police officers are defenders of justice, but when these defenders of justice become repressors and defenders of the regime, I think we need to tell our children what’s going on,” said Lola Huang (黃芷嫻), another participant in yesterday’s action.
After hanging up their messages on the barricades, 15 children accompanied by their parents entered the legislative chamber to show their support of the student activists.
“Thank you, big brothers and sisters, for defending our democracy,” the children said.
“As long as the students are here, we will stay here with them too,” a mother, Chang Shu-hui (張淑惠), said.