by Brian Hioe

Photo Credit: Brian Hioe

A DIE-IN AND PROTEST in support of Gaza and Palestine was held in Liberty Plaza in Taipei. Around 100 participated, including many expats in Taiwan, as well as Taiwanese. As such, many of the speeches were interpreted in both Mandarin and English.

The demonstration began around 3:30 PM. The first speaker was Hazem Almassry, a Palestinian academic living in Taiwan from Gaza. Almassry spoke of how Palestine was not unoccupied land, as Israeli narratives sometimes frame it as being, but how Israel’s actions have served to displace the original inhabitants of the land. Likewise, Almassry spoke of how Palestinians have died or lost family members because of Israel’s efforts at ethnic cleansing, including himself.

Comments by Hazem Almassry. Photo credit: Brian Hioe

The second speaker was Shih Yi-hsiang of the Taiwan Association for Human Rights. Shih drew comparisons to the White Terror in Taiwan, with regards to the political and state violence faced by Palestinians. To this extent, Shih called for support for Palestine, on the basis of Taiwan’s professed democratic values.

A “Tears for Palestine” painting activity was carried out at the same time that this took place. This involved painting red tears onto a banner, an activity inspired by a Palestinian solidarity group from Japan. Likewise, For Peace Taiwan held a letter-writing activity, calling on individuals to write legislators part of a parliamentary friendship group between Taiwan and Israel, urging them to withdraw because of Israel’s human rights abuses. Indeed, the Taiwanese government recently donated 15.9 million NT to Israeli government agencies, though the Taiwanese government claims that this is to be used for medical aid rather than the Israeli military.

The die-in. Photo credit: Brian Hioe

Subsequently, the die-in took place around 4 PM. This involved the participants of the demonstration lying down on the ground. As this took place, noise reminiscent of the daily sounds of Gaza was played, including “Zanana”, a slang term referring to the constant buzzing of drones heard in Gaza, the sounds of traffic, and the occasional sound of missile strikes. The moderators of the event emphasized that the die-in still was little compared to the experiences of Palestinians.

After the die-in, three subsequent speakers spoke. The first speaker was Leah Lin of the Taiwan Palestine Action Front, followed by Dai Hsin-yu of Amnesty International Taiwan, and Julia Mariano of Migrante Taiwan. Speakers reiterated the call for Taiwanese politicians to condemn Israel’s actions, rather than seek to maintain diplomatic ties with Israel, and that there should be a ceasefire in Gaza. Likewise, Taiwan’s lack of asylum laws was criticized, in that if there were asylum seekers from Gaza, they would likely have no way to stay. To this extent, American imperialism was criticized as backing Israel and backing regional authoritarians such as Bongbong Marcos Jr., the son of former Filipino dictator Ferdinand Marcos, Sr.

Comments by Leah Lin. Photo credit: Brian Hioe

After this round of speakers, an open mic period was held. The moderators of the event, Yang Kang and Aurora Chang, expressed support for Palestine on the basis of one’s many identities, and how Taiwan has not shown support for Palestine the way that there has been support for Tibet, Xinjiang, and Ukraine. Comments during the open mic included further critiques of US imperialism by speakers from the International Socialist Forward, an American Indigenous speaker who reflected on Taiwan’s own struggles for recognition and how one could contribute to the struggle in small ways, such as participating in the BDS campaign. Lennon Ying-dah Wong of the Serve the People Association in comments discussed how the Taiwanese education system often compared Taiwan to Israel rather than Palestine in spite of the fact that Taiwan shares more similarities with the latter. Moreover, links between Taiwanese technology companies and the Israeli military were also raised.

Several self-initiated activities took place during the demonstration. One individual handed out a poem by Hiba Kamal Abu Nada, the noted poet and novelist who was killed by an Israeli airstrike in late October. Another individual solicited donations for a Palestinian family seeking to evacuate to Algeria, while another individual handed out poems from Palestine to raise funds through GoFundMe for a Palestinian poet seeking to aid their family. Left-wing activists later began playing Palestinian electronic music on the side of the demonstration.

Comments by Dai Hsin-yu. Photo credit: Brian Hioe

The rally ended at 5:40 PM, with calls for those present at the demonstration to connect with each other for future organizing, and a final call to free Palestine.

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