Violence and Red Guards....in Taipei
Well, as I feared, the bad news keeps rolling out of the faux "people's protest" in Taipei. Taiwan News reports that gangs are already. hard at work among the crowd:
The CIB and the city's police authority have been extremely cautious in their plans for keeping the upcoming parade under control. Local media disclosed that members of most criminal rings in northern Taiwan have colluded to cause turmoil at the rally by attacking one of the official buildings the parade will pass by. As the parade will pass the buildings of many government agencies, including the Presidential Office, the reportedly planned attacks have shocked the community and brought considerable pressure on local law enforcement officials.
Kao said police have found that members of certain criminal rings are already taking part in the ongoing sit-in held by Shih and his comrades on Ketagalan Boulevard against Chen. "Some of them even play a role in maintaining the event's order," Kao said.
Yesterday there were reports of people wearing green being beaten, and a large number of people who have to pass through protest areas told media personnel they wear red to avoid violence against themselves. A China Times columnist said marchers should attack the Presidential building, and there were many calls for violent attacks on government buildings reported in the media. There were also threats that the Shih campaign protesters would lay siege to the train station and attack protesters coming in today for the pro-Chen protest. Shih meanwhile tried to separate himself from what he has launched:
In response to the alleged planned violence, Shih and his colleagues have already urged members participating in today's parade to remain peaceful throughout the march. But they have also made it clear that should there be any attacks initiated by people involved in the event, the organizers will not be responsible as the parade is separate from individual acts of violence.
Sure, Shih. He also said that Chen would "bear all responsibility" for any violence -- meaning that Shih expects it now. Meanwhile a 12 year old boy got up and read an anti-Chen poem to the crowd to loud cheers, causing many observers to remark on the affinity to Mao's Red Guard era.
The presence of gangsters is a strong signal that the protest is a partisan pro-Blue job, since the Taipei gangs are overwhelmingly pro-Blue. The Taiwan News and other Green media have pointed out that the protest is a partisan political hack job:
However, the most troubling question is whether Shih or the other leaders of the "Depose Chen" action genuinely have control over their own headquarters and whether the headquarters genuinely has the capability to maintain discipline and control among "Depose Chen" supporters.
Numerous incidents, including threats against reporters, recurrent attacks on passers-by, mob censorship in the so-called "Citizens Forum" and signs of the presence of gang members, give rise to serious concern.
Moreover, a revealing contrast was the hounding of a "Depose Chen" spokesman for using the term "Taiwan Country" on September 9 and the enthusiastic welcome given yesterday afternoon by Shih and the red-shirted crowd for an imitator of the late autocrat Chiang Ching-kuo who led the crowd in shouting slogans such as "Long Live the Republic of China!" and "Long Live the Chinese Nationalist Party!"
You'd have to be pretty naive to take seriously the "non-partisan" label for this made-for-media event.
I said earlier that violence might break out because it favors many different political agendas. Here's hoping Mayor Ma sets aside his partisan political stance and puts a stop to it. Ma could be one of the chief losers if the crowd is used as a cover for politically-motivated gangster violence. And Taiwan would be the biggest loser of all. Meanwhile, Shih, always shooting off his mouth, said in response to the DPP counter-demonstration today:
Responding to reports that the DPP has resolved to mobilize people to attend a Taiwan Society-initiated rally tomorrow at the same location where supporters of Shih's anti-corruption campaign have been gathering since last Saturday, Shih criticized DPP officials, saying only Nazis and Mussolini mobilize crowds.
[Taiwan] [Taipei] [Shih Ming-deh/Shih Ming-te] [Chen Shui-bian] [Democracy] [DPP] [Washington Post]