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We are Taiwan’s 99%! : ‘Occupy Taipei’ participants

The rally was a part of Saturday’s worldwide activities held in support of the
‘Occupy Wall Street’ protest against corporate power

“We are Taiwan’s 99 percent,” protesters cried out loud as they gathered at Taipei 101 early Saturday to join people around the world in staging their own version of the “Occupy Wall Street (OWS)” demonstration.
Fewer than 500 people took part in an “Occupy Taipei” protest in wet weather, barely enough to form a circle around the Taipei 101 tower.
As of 10:30 a.m., nearly 100 protesters had gathered at the entrance of the skyscraper which is considered the icon of Taiwan.


It is not an “organized” event, the initiators said three days ahead of the protest. Anybody, including the media and the police, can participate. Protesters are now mainly college students along with some social rights activists and some members of Taiwan’s opposition political parties.
Among the protesters were two graduate school students who sang a song which they composed.
“Use the song to build a fortress and fight against the world in October 2011, “ two students playing the guitar on the ground sang.


One of the students, who preferred to be called “Jason,” said the students wanted to call for love and peace, which they think Taiwan currently lacks.
“Ignorant people laugh at us, but ‘occupying’ is the practice of rebellions,” the lyrics read.
The police kept a close watch on the demonstration and said they would increase the police presence if the crowds expanded.


So far, only small quarrels among the protesters have occurred.
The protesters stood in the steady drizzle chanting, “We want justice, we want freedom,” in an extension of the “Occupy Wall Street ” demonstration that has been taking place in the United States in recent weeks against social and economic inequality and corporate greed.
The Taipei crowd was made up of local protesters, as well as foreign nationals who held placards that read “Greed has ruined my country. Don’t let it ruin yours.”


Raising their hands in the air, the protesters shouted, “We are Taiwan’s 99 percent!” and “Down with capitalism!”
The action was initiated on Facebook and as of 3:30 p.m. Saturday, nearly 6,800 people had “liked” the page and more than 2,000 had said they planned to attend the rally, but only about 500 showed up.
Although the turnout was not as good as expected, the initiators said, “at least we have voiced our appeals.”
“I’m just here to show some support for what’s going on on Wall Street, I guess,” said an English teacher who identified himself as Grant from Tampa, Florida. The issues are the same in Taiwan and the U.S. -- corporate greed and social injustice, he said.
Some of the Taiwanese protesters said they were expressing dissatisfaction at the fact that they could not afford to get married or have children.


At about 1:25 p.m., some protesters moved from outside the iconic Taipei 101 skyscraper to inside the shopping complex, but many were prevented by security guards and police from entering the building.
Those who managed to get inside continued to shout slogans and sing, and asked shoppers to join them.
David George of Canada, one of those who managed to get in, said that the idea of entering one of the tallest buildings in the world was “interesting.”


“Ninety-nine percent is the majority, and Taipei 101 is a symbol of elitism -- the people who are exploiting the majority of people,” he said. “So for these two to come together, it symbolizes balance.”
George played a didgeridoo, an indigenous musical instrument from Australia, as the protesters marched.
Michael Liu, a Taipei 101 spokesman, said he respected the demonstration, but complained that business was suffering as a result of “uncalled-for trouble.”


“We respect the protesters’ appeals, but I hope they can also respect ours,” he said, adding that the indoor demonstration had already affected the customers and stores in the tower.
The Wall Street demonstration, after which the Taipei protest was patterned, began on Sept. 17 in New York City and has since spread to other cities in the United States and beyond in protest against social and economic inequality and corporate greed.

 




 
   

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