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Eviction fight reaches Ketagalan

“One hundred days since the new government took office, nothing has changed,” demonstrators said. “Forced evictions have continued and the housing rights of a few have been sacrificed for the sake of major corporations.”

Thousands of victims of forced evictions and supporters from more than 60 civic groups participated in the event, which was organized by the Taiwan Alliance of Anti-Forced Eviction, the Taiwan Association for Human Rights and the Treasure Our Island Organization.

The civic groups represented residents from across the nation whose properties have been expropriated, primarily in Kaohsiung and New Taipei.

“We have been made domestic refugees,” said professor Hsu Shih-jung (徐世榮), a veteran land justice activist and the director of the Treasure Our Island

Organization.

The demonstrators demanded that regulations governing urban renewal, urban land redistricting and land expropriation be reviewed and amended to focus on housing rights.

They also demanded that current development projects be suspended until the land expropriation process is transparent and includes public participation.

The degree to which individual housing rights can be sacrificed for the sake of public development projects must be reviewed, the protesters said.

The demonstrators also demanded that Chang’s pharmacy, a dwelling demolished by the Ma administration in Dapu District, Miaoli County, be reconstructed in a timely manner.

Protesters urged the Executive Yuan to establish a taskforce to review each land expropriation case. They recommended that the taskforce report to the Presidential Office’s human rights advisory committee two to four times per year.

Government Responds

In response, the Presidential Office issued a statement Sunday, in which Tsai promised to reconstruct Chang’s pharmacy “at its original location.”

Housing rights experts will be prioritized for appointments to the Presidential Office’s human rights advisory committee, the statement read.

The statement said that new guidelines for future reforms had been drafted by the Interior Ministry based on appeals from civic groups, and that in the future, more emphasis would be placed on the justification behind each land expropriation case.

‘Should be a last resort’

Protesters of all ages sat on Ketagalan Boulevard, holding banners, cardboard and flags, as they raised their concerns with the government and sought public support.

On the street, demonstrators had arranged household items from demolished residences into the Mandarin character for “home.”

Behind, protesters held a banner that read, “I’m sorry to have fought a wall while born an egg.”

Peng Hsiu-chun (彭秀春), the widow of the owner of Chang’s pharmacy and a significant figure in the anti-land expropriation movement, spoke at the beginning of the four-hour protest.

“Forced evictions should be the government’s last resort and should only be carried out with comprehensive and clear planning,” she said.