More than 100 protesters from more than 30 civic groups yesterday marched against forced evictions, calling for land development and urban renewal to be halted until related laws and regulations are reviewed.
Shouting “solidarity” and “zero eviction” in English and Chinese, protesters threw shoes at a cardboard box barrier on Ketagalan Boulevard in front of the Presidential Office Building in Taipei. The barrier was covered with slogans representing a lack of public participation, abuse of public power to further private interests and a lack of avenues of relief under current rules.
“There are all sorts of shortcomings with current land policy, including the laws themselves and their implementation. We want a comprehensive policy review, with a freeze on all controversial cases until it is completed,” said Hsu Shih-chung (許世忠), spokesman for the International Tribunal on Evictions, an opinion court the groups hosted a session for on Saturday to raise awareness of housing rights.
“Land appropriation policy has not fully implemented requirements for the views of residents to be respected, resulting in discussions with residents being reduced to a formality and expropriations occurring by force when residents disagree,” he said.
The march began at the former Huaguang Community (華光社區), stopping outside the Ministry of Transportation and Communications to protest the ministry’s role in the promotion of land expropriation and development in connection with prominent infrastructure, including plans to expand Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport and to move Tainan’s railway line underground.
“The ministry has already turned land development into infrastructure policy, using it to subsidize the costs of major projects, which means that residents affected by MRT and light rail construction and road expansion all face ‘looting’ evictions,” said Chen Chih-hsiao (陳致曉), spokesman for a self-help association of homeowners affected by Tainan’s railway project.
Demonstrators representing eviction cases in seven nations participated in yesterday’s march, along with domestic activists from across the nation.
“This march is important to us, because we are extremely grateful the International Tribunal on Evictions has brought attention to our case,” said Hsueh Chiung-mei (薛?美), a member of a self-help association for residents of a Kaohsiung fruit and vegetable market, who added that the Kaohsiung City Government has been unresponsive to their plight.
Cheng Yuan-wen (鄭淵文), head of a self-help association for residents of Kaohsiung’s Dagouding (大溝頂), said participating in the protest was aimed at forcing the Kaohsiung City Government to address their case.
“We hope that people across Taiwan will hear about our case, because the Kaohsiung City Government will not pay any attention to us otherwise,” he said.
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