Monday, July 29, 2013

Artists defy Miaoli warning, 'street' premiere film at demolition site

Movie night in Dapu
Actions against the July 18 demolitions in Dapu continued on Saturday, with a movie showing and more flash protests 

Police in Dapu Borough (大埔), Miaoli Country, on Saturday night fined the organizers of a street premiere of director Chan Ching-lin’s (詹慶臨) film, A Breath from the Bottom (狀況排除), for “disturbing public order” by holding the screening at the site of the controversial demolition of residences in the borough earlier this month.

About 300 activists and members of the public joined Chan and other artistic figures at 7pm on Saturday in a show of solidarity with the four families whose homes and businesses were bulldozed on the orders of Miaoli County Commissioner Liu Cheng-hung (劉政鴻) on July 18, ending a three-year battle to halt the destructions.

A selection of the 2013 Taipei Film Festival, the black-and-white film tells the story of a father who joins demonstrations against the government after it switches off the water supply during a drought and his son, who is a police officer. Chan won the festival’s Best Director prize for the film.

Directors Leon Dai (戴立忍), Wu Yi-feng (吳乙峰), Hung Hung (鴻鴻) and Ko I-chen (柯一正), as well as actor Kao Ying-hsuan (高英軒), were among the many personalities who were present at the presentation, which also included musical performances. Several of them had also participated at a rally on Ketagalan Boulevard in Taipei on Thursday to support the victims of the Dapu demolitions.

Although Liu had threatened to deploy as many as 200 police to the site of the event, only a small number of plainclothes officers were dispatched, and the event proceeded without incident. Nevertheless, the organizers were still fined NT$1,200 for “disturbing public order,” because the screening was held at the site of one of the demolished buildings, a pharmacy, torn down to widen a road as part of a science park expansion project initiated by the county government.

Crashing President Ma's party
Following the demolitions on July 18, the Taiwan Rural Front and associated organizations launched a series of protests in Taipei, while numerous spontaneous demonstrations have targeted Cabinet officials in President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) administration at public venues around the nation, prompting the authorities to adopt measures that critics — including several hundred lawyers who voiced their opposition in an open letter late last week — have called illegal and disproportionate.

In the latest flash protest, four young activists took turns interrupting a speech given by Ma at an event sponsored by the Mainland Affairs Council in Greater Taichung on Saturday afternoon. Before being taken away, all four shouted the now-popular slogan: “You tear down the Dapu houses today, we will tear down the government tomorrow.”

My article appeared in the Taipei Times on July 29. (Photos Liberty Times)

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