In the wake of the Tienanmen Square Incident in1989, Taiwanese students organized a demonstration at the Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall in Taipei, where they raised their voices in support of their Beijing comrades. They wanted democracy, freedom and human rights. The passion of their youth penetrated the society of that time. The mobilized a thousand students to mourn the students who died at Tienanmen and to celebrate news of the death of DENG Xiaoping, but was it not only in order to pat themselves on the back? Once the tumult had passed, what help had it brought to society?
Spanning over a period of 10 years, this film is about a group of workers who stood up in protest against an illegal factory shutdown. In May 1992, Chin-Shiang Textile employees suffered various assaults by their company from salary cuts to unexplained demotion and the sudden shutdown of the factory. From reticence to picketing the factory, the dispute escalated to public demonstrations and even the active involvement and guidance of professionals from Taiwan’s Worker’s Movement. The process of their fight wrote down the first page in the history of Taiwan’s labor movement.
At the outset, the film informs the audience of its intention to both document and support the student movement. In March 1990, students from all over the universities, colleges and volitional schools throughout Taiwan raised their voices in unison to call for old National Assembly members to retire from office. There were four points to their demand: dissolve the National Assembly; abolish the Temporary Measures for Suppression of the Rebellion; convene a conference to discuss national affairs; and provide a timetable for democratic reform.
The stains of Bach’s solo cello and the voice of narrator CHENG Wen-Tang take us back to 1989, stirring up memories of CHENG Nan-Jung and the Freedom Era Weekly Magazine office where he burned himself to death. At 9:05 AM on April 7, CHENG Nan-Jung’s charred body declared his resolve to contribute himself to this land and his love for the people. The activist thinker CHENG Nan-Jung opened up many new directions for Taiwan on the road to freedom. Through this film we come to understand why it is that CHENG’s death has had such a tremendous and lasting influence on Taiwanese society.
In 1982, TaiPower, a major industrial firm, decided to use Orchid Island as a dumping ground for nuclear waste. In 1987, the Dawus decided to protest formally against the dumping of nuclear waste on their beloved island. In 1988, the infamous 220 action to ‘rip the evil out of Orchid Island’ took place. It was a historic moment marking the first time the Dawus demonstrated against the nuclear waste. It has been 15 years since the documentary was made, but the evil spirit still invades this beautiful island.
WANG Yung-Ching’s Formosa Plastics is located in Chichin. Formosa Chemical is located in Changhua. In 1989, Formosa Chemical’s Ilan Plant began releasing black smoke after dark. Living standers became unbearable. Unable to resolve these problems, Formosa Plastic wants to build a sixth naphtha cracking plant. Director YU Chien-Yu hails from Yilan, and both times Formosa Plastics tried to set up a factory there, he used his images as his declaration that Kaohsiung was against the fifth naphtha cracker and certainly is against the sixth.
This video work can be regarded as a chronicle of the 100 Union Action, which, founded in Sep 21 1991, appealed for the abolition of article 100 of the Criminal Law. On Oct 9 and 10, the members of the union protested behind the Taiwan University Medical School for the abolition of this unfair law. After the protest, the union’s members, including scholars, doctors, were interviewed and spoke on reflection of the positive and negative outcomes of their action.
On September 21 1994, a demonstration indicated by LIN Yi-Hsiung calling for a public referendum on the building of the fourth nuclear power plant started out from Lungshan Temple in Taipei, and after circumambulating the whole of Taiwan, returned there on October 25. This was a silent protest - while walking they maintained an atmosphere of stern solemnity. In the words of LIN Yi-Hsiung, this long hard walk was a most beautiful gift to give this most beautiful of islands.
In the 520 event, 5000 farmers marched on government office in order to propose their 7 requests - farmers’ health insurance, the promise of the rice price guarantees, and the release of farmland sale, etc. Their actions have become the most radical since 1979. Like urban-guerrilla warfare, the violence between the storm department and the farmers continued into the night, with students and civilians coming out in sympathy with the farmers. With the encouragement of the social movement of workers, the farmers self-help event was enlarged into a big democratic movement.
The 1987 lifting of martial law covered Taiwan and the Penghu Islands, but Kinmen and Matzu still remain under the law. The film reveals how only still cameras are allowed in Kinmen, while in Taiwan marches demonstrating love for Kinmen and Matzu are recorded with motion picture equipment. Director Cheng-Liang DONG narrates in the first person, and while viewing the shots the audience listens to his soliloquy. As we look back, we see that the Kinmen drama is never-ending.