[Amazing Taiwan] 대만대 사회학과 HwaJen교수의 현지소식
대만현지에서 타오르고 있는 반핵운동의 생생한 현장소식이 담긴 대만국립대 사회학과 류화진 교수의 기고가 실린 한겨레21 기사를 소개합니다. 류화진 교수는 환경사회학을 전공하고 한국과 대만의 환경과 노동문제 비교연구로한 박사논문을 작성한 바 있습니다.
아래는 류화진 교수의 영어기사 원문입니다.
Hunger Strike, Water Cannon, and Taiwan’s 30-Year Anti-Nuclear Struggle
April 30, 2014
Department of Sociology, National Taiwan University
While South Korea was mourning to and outraged by the ferry tragedy, its Taiwanese neighbor faced a somehow different battle: anti-nuclear activists came together holding all-night sit-ins, staging mass rallies, and fighting riot police and water cannon on the street.
It’s all about saving one precious life and forcing the Ma Ying-Jeou administration halt the construction of the notorious Lungmen nuclear plant, nicknamed the Nuke 4.
Mr. Lin Yi-Hsiung, the former chairman of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and a high-profile anti-nuclear activist at the age of 73, went on an infinite hunger strike on April 22, 2014, demanding the ruling Koumintang party (KMT) to terminate the accident-ridden Nuke 4 project right away and to revise the existing Referendum Act which defied the spirit of direct democracy in multiple ways. The invention of the Referendum Review Committee and a two-stage petition design all serve to deter rather than encourage any referendum initiative. To make a national referendum valid, more than 50% of eligible voters must cast ballots, in contrast to Korea’s threshold set at one third. Here we see a paradox: since the Referendum Act was enacted in 2003, all previous six attempts on national referendums have failed to pass the 50% threshold, and so far Taiwan hasn’t passed even one single national referendum proposal.
Once Lin’s hunger strike was known, across ideological spectrums and across different generations, Taiwan’s social movement community was mobilized in full force even though the annual anti-nuclear rally just took place six weeks ago. Activists and concerned citizens began to block the parliament entrances, not allowing any lawmakers leaving the premise without passing the Reference Act revision first; the current chair of the DPP rushed to see a string of high-ranking KMT officials in a hope to find possible solutions; college students tied hundreds of thousands of yellow ribbons on and off campus to send Mr. Lin their sincerest regards; more than one hundred NGOs were united under the banner of the National Nuclear Abolition Action Platform (NNAAP) and called for the second anti-nuclear rally of this year on April 27, 2014, the fifth day of Lin’s hunger strike.
During the rally preparation, President Ma and the KMT government held their stand firm. They repeatedly advised the public that, if the Nuke 4 came to a halt, the state-owned Taiwan Power Company would be put under great financial risk, the electricity price would go up 40%, a massive divestment and capital strike would ensue, and the stock market might plummet. On the rally day, 50,000 protesters gathered in front of the heavily barricaded Presidential Palace to support the demands of “No Nuke 4” and “Referendum Act Revision.” The protesters headed toward Taipei main station to occupy Zhongxiao West Rd – probably the busiest street in Taipei – as planned, regardless the severe warning that the police would clear the block by force the same night to make Monday morning traffic unaffected.
While the rally went on, Ma Ying-Jeou was in an emergency meeting with all KMT mayors and magistrates to respond to this escalating anti-nuclear fever. Hours later the KMT spokesman announced that the Nuke 4 would be temporarily suspended, its reactivation must be approved by a national referendum. 90% of protesters thought the KMT had relented and left the Zhongxiao West Rd. Around 1,000 protesters refused to leave, because Mr. Lin hasn’t stopped hunger strike, no promise has been made regarding Referendum Act revision, and the Nuke 4 was still under the threat of reactivation. What came after was much known to the world due to BBC and CNN coverage. Five thousand riot police used water cannon to disperse 1,000 unarmed and nonviolent protesters, and the street fight last almost five hours, which showed an unusual determination on the part of anti-nuclear protesters.
Mr. Lin stopped the hunger strike on April 30. The NNAAP announced that this wave of action had achieved a limited success by forcing the executive branch of the government, first time ever, publicly agree to halt the construction of the Nuke 4. Their future tasks will rest on blocking any Nuke 4 budget proposals in the parliament, and never allow the KMT government to delay the phase-out of the other three nuclear plants. If the phase-out of all nuclear reactors goes as scheduled, Taiwan will become a nuclear-free country in the year of 2025.
Note: These figures are from each year’s news coverage. If there is more than one anti-nuclear rally in one year, the numbers of protesters in different events are added.
Taiwan’s anti-nuclear movement was a child conceived in Taiwan’s democratic struggle in the 1980s. Since the Nuke 4 was one of the major national projects backed by the KMT back then, it is often considered the most significant case of conflict between the environmentalists and the still authoritarian government. The famous slogan in the 1980s, “anti-nuclear power equals anti-dictatorship,’ perfectly captures the position of the anti-nuclear movement in defying the pro-nuclear ruling KMT and its long-term alliance with the opposition party, the DPP. Yet, a change of the ruling party in the late 1990s did not deliver the result that many anti-nuclear activists had hoped for. The DPP, out of a variety of reasons, failed to terminate the Nuke 4 project, which both outraged and demoralized many of its long-term friends in the environmental movement. The first decade of the twenty-first century witnessed the dormancy of Taiwan’s anti-nuclear activism, as we can see from the graph that, between 2001 and 2010, only three anti-nuclear rallies were organized and the tradition of holding at least one such rally annually was broken. During this period, the anti-nuclear movement was alive, but only barely, thanks to a handful of environmental NGOs and Gongliao residents nearby the designated site of the Nuke 4 persistently raising this seemingly outdated “Nuke 4” issue.
Photo by Hwa-Jen Liu
It is the Fukushima disaster in 2011 that revitalized Taiwan’s anti-nuclear movement and brought a head-to-head confrontation against the now-ruling KMT government. Yet, the Fukushima effect had to wait two more years to be really seen. In the post-Fukushima era, Taiwan’s anti-nuclear activism was spearheaded by “junior” NGOs consisting of activists in their forties (equivalent to Korea’s 386 generation). In contrast to the older-generation environmentalists who had a love-and-hate relationship with the DPP, junior NGOs such as the Green Citizens’ Action Alliance (GCAA) went beyond the KMT-DPP divide and resorted to a new round of grassroots organizing with creative campaigns. The GCAA trained more than one hundred “anti-nuclear lecturers,” including the author, to tour all over Taiwan to spread the correct information on Taiwan’s nuclear power to the public. These touring lectures took place in cafés, classrooms, restaurants, and even somebody’s living room. A small café owner, trained by the GCAA, initiated an “anti-nuclear flag” campaign (see photo) which in a very short period of time had more than ten thousand anti-nuclear flags hung in front of residential buildings, noodle shops, bakeries, business offices, etc. Anti-nuclear concerts, anti-nuclear film festivals, anti-nuclear gallery shows were held. Filmmakers and popular singers chimed in en masse. Even the wives of major corporation owners joined the “Mothers Who Monitor Nuclear Plants Alliance” which made the newspaper headlines.
Out of tireless grassroots organizing, coalition-building, and educational campaigns, a complete nuclear-power phase-out steadily received the majority support in various polls, which eventually culminated in an anti-nuclear rally with 220,000 participants in 2013 and in this year’s partial compromise from the pro-nuclear KMT government. Whether or not the KMT government will keep its own word remains to be seen. But one thing for sure, the anti-nuclear side will work hard to retain its support base and confront the KMT head-on if such promise is unilaterally broken. There will be a few more steps before being able to live nuclear-free, but this prospect remains in sight and no more in dream.