Anti-nuclear protesters’ occupation of one of Taipei’s busiest streets on Sunday has sparked heated debate among netizens.
On Sunday afternoon, protesters marched from Ketagalan Boulevard to Zhongxiao W Road, where they lay or sat on the road, paralyzing traffic in an area usually thronging with cars and buses.
Commentators on the Professional Technology Temple — the nation’s largest academic online bulletin board — were divided on the protest action, with those against the road’s occupation saying they saw no link between blocking a main thoroughfare and being against nuclear power.
Zhongxiao W Road is in front of the Taipei Railway Station, as well as bus hubs, and runs alongside the busy Nanyang Street, which is home to various cram schools.
One netizen said it took him nearly two extra hours to get home because all street-level public transport vehicles had to circle around the blocked-off area, adding that he wanted to ask the protesters what the purpose of occupying that particular section of road was.
Another said that, unlike the seizure of the Legislative Yuan by Sunflower movement protesters on March 18 against the government’s handling of the cross-strait service trade pact, Sunday’s occupation affected the public, so the longer activists blocked the road, the more annoyed the public would become with them.
On the other hand, supporters of the road block said that “if the anti-nuclear activists did not employ methods radical enough to disrupt public life, their voices would not be heard,” while others said that “a little sacrifice now would result in greater rewards in the future.”
Sunflower student leader Chen Wei-ting (陳為廷) joined the online debate by posting on Facebook that he was displeased with some of the public’s responses toward the road’s occupation.
Responding to multiple complaints about how the anti-nuclear protest had interfered with activities such as shopping, Chen offered a few solutions:
“If you support the anti-nuclear cause, but feel that we should not occupy lanes of traffic, then you should propose an alternative method of protests that you would participate in, otherwise, then you are not very responsible,” he said.
On the other hand, if those complaining about Sunday’s occupation support completing the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant, they should stand up and take responsibility for their pro-nuclear stance, Chen added.
Addressing those who had no stance on the issue, but were criticizing the protest because it infringed on their right to shop, the student leader said that such people are either playing dumb or are just waiting to die.
“Being neutral is not a political stance, it is giving all your power to the people in charge and making yourself a pawn,” Chen said.
He called on all those who want to browse stores, attend cram schools or watch a movie in the vicinity of the protest to understand what the 50,000 activists occupying Zhongxiao W Road were trying to achieve before they complain about being robbed of their “right to window shop.”
“As sentient beings, we cannot avoid the life-and-death issues of nuclear power,” Chen wrote.
Additional reporting by CNA