Indigenous protesters have vowed to continue their occupation after police dismantled their encampment on Jan. 22.
The News Lens
By: Brian Hioe, 破土 New Bloom
Taipei police dismantled the occupation encampment of indigenous protesters outside Exit 1 of the NTU Hospital station yesterday. Indigenous protesters, however, vow to continue to occupy. Today was the 699th day of the occupation and this was the third dismantlement of the occupation which has occurred to date.
Having received an advance warning from police that they would dismantle the occupation today, indigenous occupiers previously relocated 300 lilies planted in their encampment to the Taipei Fine Arts Museum, where indigenous occupiers currently have an exhibit as part of the Taipei Biennial. Police stated that while they would dismantle the encampment, they would not forcibly remove occupiers. Set up in the encampment had been tents, traditional indigenous structures, a small stove, artwork, and placards featuring information about the demands of the occupation and the broader history of Taiwanese indigenous.
As a result, indigenous occupiers will likely continue to stay, the occupation having persisted in some form on Ketagalan Boulevard in front of the Presidential Office or outside of the Shandao Temple MRT for close to two years. The indigenous occupation is one of several political occupations which have been present in the Shandao Temple area over the last few years, including the Free Taiwan Party/Alliance of Referendum for Taiwan’s pro-independence occupation, and the occupation by the 800 Heroes anti-pension group. The Shandao Temple area sees a number of such occupations because of the cluster of government buildings in the area, including the Presidential Office, Legislative Yuan, Executive Yuan, and Control Yuan.
Indigenous occupiers have stated that they believe police actions were timed to coincide with a period in which a number of key members of the occupation would not be present, such as documentary film director Mayaw Biho and singer-songwriter Nabu Husungan Istanda. It is also possible that police did not want the occupation lasting over 700 days, or just felt the need to assert their authority against the occupation. It is unknown if the orders for the eviction came from Taipei mayor Ko Wen-je (柯文哲) or perhaps the central government, most likely the latter, seeing as Ko later publicly defended the police action. However, the use of police force against the indigenous occupation has generally been disproportionate compared to other occupations present in the Shandao Temple area over the last two years. [FULL STORY]