Sunday, December 01, 2013

Taiwan Rural Front spokeswoman Frida Tsai hit by car in Miaoli

The outspoken critic of government-sanctioned evictions and home demolitions around the nation is the latest victim in a part of the country where odd coincidences are rife

TRF spokeswoman Frida Tsai (蔡培慧) yesterday was hit by a car after attending the reopening of a coffee shop in Miaoli County and remains under close observation at hospital.

Tsai, who spearheaded a campaign of protests in recent months against nation-wide forced evictions and the impact of a controversial cross-strait services trade agreement, was hit head-on by a minivan at about 6pm on Saturday as she was crossing at an intersection. She had just attended the reopening of the Zhunan Café, the site of organizing activities by activists opposing home demolitions in Dapu which had been closed after its windows were twice broken by unidentified individuals.

Tsai at a protest in early October
Tsai sustained a cranial fracture and had brain hemorrhage, and is now in the intensive care unit at Cheng Gong Hospital in Linkou (林口), where she has been in and out of consciousness. According to a statement on the TRF Facebook page, Tsai underwent an emergency operation overnight and her condition was stable.

Miaoli police have detained the driver of the vehicle, and the TRF is calling for witnesses. Police and prosecutors in the central county have a rather deplorable reputation when it comes to resolving crime. The authorities have yet to establish whether this was an accident or something more troubling.

Of course, all of this can be mere coincidence. But this is Miaoli, known for the mysterious “suicides” of Mr. Chang Sen-wen (張森文) in September, exactly two months after his home and pharmacy were demolished, and that of four local government officials since County Commissioner Liu Cheng-hong (劉政鴻) assumed the position in 2006. Three of the four men were involved with environmental impact and land issues, also a coincidence, especially amid efforts by Liu and his family to attract large investment with science parks and other projects, from which they could make substantial benefits (the other was a driver for Liu). In some cases, the families of the victims were unable to see the autopsy reports.

It’s also probably a complete coincidence that the Chang family, which for years resisted the demolition plans, was often threatened by individuals who visited their pharmacy to flash their firearms. Or that Chen Wei-ting (陳為廷), one of the lead student protesters and the author of the direct “shoe hit” against Liu on September 18, was “warned” a few months ago to be “careful” as gangsters were watching him. 

All the more reason for law-enforcement authorities to take a close look into Saturday's incident.

Let us all hope that Tsai, the latest victim in a land of coincidences, makes a full and speedy recovery. (Photos by the author)

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