The family of a Dayuan Township (大園), Taoyuan County, farmer protested government land seizures as they expressed their sorrow at his funeral yesterday.
Neighbors joined the family of Lu A-yun (呂阿雲), an 83-year-old farmer in who committed suicide last month after his family’s land was expropriated by the government, at the ceremony and joined in the protests.
Accompanied by traditional funeral music and escorted by hundreds of mourners, the coffin containing Lu’s body was carried from the funeral hall onto a hearse.
As the vehicle slowly moved forward, his family, friends and neighbors, followed on foot.
At the end of the procession was a group of people silently holding funeral scrolls that read: “Killed by government policy” and “Reject the [aerotropolis] project to serve justice.”
“This is a sad moment, as we are gathered here to send my father off on his final journey,” Lu A-yun’s son, Lu Wen-chung (呂文忠), said.
“My father sacrificed his life to defend our family’s interests and I would like to call on the government to reconsider the project and listen to the voice of local residents,” he said.
“We are firmly against the project, we want to keep our land and our house,” he added.
Lu Wen-chung was referring to the Taoyuan Aerotropolis project, which is a planned expansion of the Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport to create a free-trade zone and establish several industrial, technology and financial districts that would in total require the use of 6,150 hectares of land in the vicinity of the airport.
The required land expropriation to see the project finishesd could affect more than 15,000 families living in the area.
“At first, most of us were supportive of the project,” Taoyuan Aerotropolis Victims’ Self-Help Association spokesman and Dayuan resident Chan Ching-chang (詹慶章) said. “At the time, we thought it wasn’t a big deal if the government took our land and houses here, and gave us equivalent land and houses elsewhere in return.”
As Chan and his neighbors looked more closely at the government’s compensation plan, they said they realized they were being naive, because regardless of whether they chose to accept cash compensation or housing arrangements, all the compensation plans are discounted.
“In the initial phase of the project, 500 to 600 hectares of land are to be seized, affecting more than 8,000 families,” Chan said. “However, the government’s plan is to build housing project complexes on 10 hectares of land that are only capable of housing 4,000 families — meaning that the 8,000 families must fight for the opportunity to move from their townhouses into small apartment units.”
“In addition, we do not just need homes to live in, some people make their living from their properties — they may run a business on the first floor of their own house, rent out a spare room, or grow vegetables and crops in their gardens,” Chan said. “Even if these people are lucky enough to get an apartment after the government takes their property, how are they going to make a living?”
The residents said they would organize more demonstrations in Taipei and also called on the Construction and Planning Agency to reject the aerotropolis project during a review meeting scheduled for Dec. 24.