Residents of Taipei’s Huaguang (華光) community gathered in front of the Ministry of Justice in the capital yesterday, bringing along rubble to protest against the ministry’s forced demolition of their homes.
The controversy over the land on which the community stands began in 2006 after a project to transform it into one of the four economic and digital technology centers was unveiled.
In 2009, the area was rezoned as a commercial rather than residential area.
Last year, the Executive Yuan approved plans to remodel the area into a “second Roppongi district” — a district in Tokyo famed for its nightclubs — and officials began measuring all the buildings in the designated area in November.
Although the Executive Yuan initially intended to demolish the entire area before Dec. 31, then-Executive Yuan secretary-general Steven Chen (陳士魁) decided that the project overlapped with urban renewal projects and turned over the remodeling of the area to the Construction and Planning Administration.
Located close to the Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall and spanning 11 hectares of land, the community — where the demolition of buildings was scheduled to begin yesterday — has been home to soldiers and their famlilies who were unable to obtain living quarters after the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) relocated to Taiwan in 1949.
Following the first wave of demolitions last month, during which seven buildings were bulldozed, the ministry demolished two more buildings on Hangzhou Road yesterday.
About 30 residents and their supporters placed pieces of a demolished wall and other rubble in front of the Ministry of Justice in protest.
Police warnings that they would remove the rubble sparked outrage among the residents, who said the government was now trying to take even the rubble after it had already robbed them of their homes.
Wearing white shirts printed with blood stains, the residents lay on the ground in protest, accusing the ministry of violating their human rights and attempting to manipulate the judicial system to force them into a tight corner.
The residents left the site after calling for the demolition to be halted until the government comes up with an acceptable relocation plan, punctuating their last call with a rush at police guarding the ministry.
Meanwhile, ministry official Yang Ho-chin (楊合進) said that the government was executing its legal duty to demolish the properties before turning the land over to the Ministry of Finance.
Legally, the justice ministry cannot delay the demolition process, Yang said, adding that the Taipei City Government had agreed to provide 57 public housing units to help with the relocation of Huaguang community residents.
The Ministry of Justice planned to meet with community residents to discuss the issue yesterday, but the residents said that as they had not received any formal notification from the government about the meeting they refused to attend.