Monday, December 28, 2009

The Taiwan Independence Action Motorcade protests cross-strait talks being held with Chen Yunlin

Photo: Reuters

In this photo, a demonstrator standing atop a Taiwan Independence Action motorcade (獨立台灣會) propaganda truck burns a Chinese flag in protest of the cross-strait talks being held at the Windsor Hotel in Taichung on December 22.

This photo appeared in this Taipei Times article:

Here's another related story from the Taipei Times:

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Video footage of Su Beng's December 17 return to Taipei, Taiwan after being hospitalized in Tokyo, Japan

This video of Su Beng's release from the hospital in Japan and return to Taiwan on December 17 begins with the following words that flash across the screen:



Here is the English translation of the above:


If it's my time to go, I'd rather die on the soil of my homeland- Su Beng

Su Beng, an elder of the Taiwan independence movement was greeted in the Taiwan Taoyuan Airport by the Taiwan Referendum Alliance and several Taiwan civic groups.

That night there was a candlelight vigil for Su Beng in front of the Legislative Yuan.

The video begins with shots of Su Beng being released from the hospital in Japan, and then being driven to Haneda Airport (Tokyo International Airport).

Back at the Taiwan Taoyuan Airport supporters awaiting Su Beng's arrival practice shouting "Long live Taiwan nationalism! Long live Taiwan independence!"

Su Beng is shown being wheeled into the Haneda Airport.

Upon arriving at the Taiwan Taoyuan Airport, Su Beng is greeted by people shouting "Long live Taiwan nationalism! Long live Taiwan independence! Su Beng Ojisan* we love you!"

Su Beng is taken by ambulance to a Taipei hospital, where he will remain for about 10 more days.

Later that night at a candlelight vigil held in front of the Legislative Yuan for Su Beng, several people assembled and the following people spoke:

Professor Tsai: We are very thankful today that Su Beng Ojisan was able to get on a plane to return to Taiwan from Japan. We made a special trip to the airport to welcome him home. Thank you for everyone’s warm welcome. The things that concern Su Beng the most are continued Taiwan nationalism and nation building. It seems as though, well, we all saw Su Beng ourselves, and he looks well. But what the news media is interested in is the timing of Su Beng's return to Taiwan. Why has Su Beng chosen to return at this particular time? Is there any reason behind this? I believe that the reason why Su Beng chose to return to Taiwan now is mainly because next week Chen Yunlin [an envoy sent by the Chinese Communist Party and chairman of China’s Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Strait (ARATS)] will be coming to Taiwan for a visit. In fact, several years ago, the first time Tang Su Bei [a Chinese Communist party representative] came to Taiwan for a visit, Su Beng led people in a protest of his visit. The reason [for these protests] is always the same, because Taiwan is not a part of China. Taiwan belongs to the Taiwanese; Taiwan is the Taiwanese people’s Taiwan. China cannot treat Taiwan as its territory. The Chinese Communists should not think that they can just come here to check up on us as if Taiwan’s government is a part of its local government. We will not accept this sort of treatment or subordination under any circumstances. So when Tang Su Bei came to Taiwan Su Beng led people in a protest and when Lien Chan went to China he also led people in a protest. Because of Su Beng's involvement in protests of Lien Chan’s trip to China, he was recently charged with about 6 months of jail time and fined. This time, while in Japan, the hospital expenses were quite high. Su Beng doesn’t have health insurance there, so he had to pay a lot of these expenses out of pocket. Now several presidents of the North American Taiwanese Professors Association chapters are voluntarily trying to fundraise for Su Beng. If you can, offer your support in any way that you can. Today he has returned because he wants to encourage the people of Taiwan to protect Taiwan’s sovereignty.

Bin Hong: …so much concern for Su Beng. Everyone is so happy that Ojisan has finally been able to return safely to Taiwan. He himself is also really happy too. On November 11, when Su Beng fell sick, A-diong was the only person from the Taiwan Independence Association there by his side. At that time, having encountered such situation, made one understand what it feels like to be really helpless... [looking around and being alone] without any relatives or friends by one’s side, unable to communicate- because A-diong and I can’t speak any Japanese. So at that time it was quite despondent. That first week, Su Beng’s kidney function was at a critically low level. By Taiwan’s medical standards, dialysis would have been used to treat him by the third day. But fortunately, at the time he was in Japan and over a month’s time of treatment and care [Su Beng was treated with the use of a catheter and IV], his condition is now stable. It really was… such a painfully miserable situation. It’s very fortunate that Ojisan was able to get through this hardship. I told Ojisan that there is a Taiwanese saying, “If one is able to survive such hardship then they be able to live until 120.” We want him to continue fighting for Taiwan. He’s been able to overcome such hardship and return safely to Taiwan today also because there were so many people including overseas Taiwanese who have offered their moral support. The phone kept ringing with people offering encouragement, and there were people like Professor Tsai, Mr. Chen and everyone who went there to encourage him and Freddie and a lot of other people who flew from Taiwan to Japan just to visit and offer him encouragement. It was because of this that Su Beng had the strength and will to fight to overcome this, I believe it was because of all the encouragement that Taiwanese people gave him… Really, for someone with such poor health, to have to go through something like this is so tough. Thank you everyone for your support, because of everyone’s support he has been able to get through all of this. Thank you everyone, thank you everyone.

Prayers said during the candlelight vigil:

We thank god for giving us all the opportunity today to gather here together to welcome home the most respected ninety-three year old Taiwanese Revolutionary, our Su Beng Ojisan, who has spent his life fighting for Taiwan, for independence, for nationalism, and for the Taiwanese people’s dignity. He has returned to fight for Taiwan. We will continue to follow and support his ideals of Taiwanese nationalism and the dream of building a new country Taiwan. We ask god to give use strength to deal with Chen Yunlin and Ma Ying-jeou.

At the end of the candelight vigil participants sing the song: “Taiwan Forever Green”

*Oijisan is a Japanese term which means uncle

Sunday, December 20, 2009

A hero's welcome

Michael Richardson of the Boston Examiner has written about Su Beng's return to a hero's welcome.

Of course, as Su Beng's English Biographer, it is my duty to offer correction, clarification and comments where necessary and they appear below, after Mr. Richardson's article.

Here is Mr. Richardson's article:

Su Beng returns to a hero's welcome in Taiwan where he faces ROC jail cell:

Su Beng, Taiwan's elder champion of independence, has returned to Taiwan to a hero's welcome. The aged and ailing Su Beng had been hospitalized in Japan and fears were that he would not be able to return home.

While receiving treatment in Japan a number of Taiwanese independence advocates made a pilgrimage to Su Beng's bedside including musician Freddy Lim. Generations apart in age, the two men share a desire for Taiwan independence.

Photo courtesy of: Freddy Lim

Freddy Lim's visit to Japan to see Su Beng must raise concerns with the Republic of China in-exile government controlling Taiwan. Freddy, as he is known worldwide, is a heavy metal rock star and promotes Taiwan's liberation from the stage during his performances.

Freddy's message seems to be striking a chord with the youth of Taiwan. A recent poll showed that seven out of ten in the 18-29 year-old age group identify themselves as Taiwanese rather than Chinese, a demographic shift with huge political implications for the Kuomintang rulers of the island.

Su Beng can be expected to return to the struggle for independence for which he has tirelessly worked for over six decades. The Chinese government of Ma Ying-jeou must now decide if they intend to jail Su Beng for the 9-month prison sentence he recently recieved for a 2005 protest.

Su Beng was leading a protest against the Chinese at an airport rally when he got word that fellow demonstrators were being attacked by men in black shirts--organized thugs that distrupt outdoor political events in Taiwan--and gestured with his cane. Su Beng's outrage at the actions of the black shirts was seen by the ROC government as using a weapon to incite violence.

Although the news media in Taiwan give Su Beng infrequent attention, his weekly motorcades and other protests have made him a word-of-mouth folk hero and his views are moving from the margins of society into the mainstream.

Any attempt to lock up the frail advocate is sure to be met with noisy street protests and take Su Beng's message of independence to a larger audience.


Here are my comments in response to Mr. Richardson's article:

Dear Michael,

Thank you kindly for writing about Su Beng and keeping all of us informed about him.

I'd like to offer few corrections, comments and clarification about your article.

Though the ROC Supreme Court did recently uphold a prison sentence for Su Beng, the sentence is for 6 months and 50 days (or a total of 230 days), not 9 months. A 9-month sentence was given to Bin Hong, Su Beng's assistant.

I'd also like to clarify that Su Beng has not been charged for gesturing with his cane- which could be misconstrued as a weapon. He has been charged for 2 incidents that occurred on April 26, 2005: 1) trying to obstruct Lien Chan on the highway en route to the Taiwan Taoyuan Airport 2) setting off fireworks in the Taiwan Taoyuan Airport.

I wrote about a photo that appeared with a caption stating "Su Beng waves a stick." The stick was in fact his cane:


If you read Mr. Richardson's article on the website, you will notice that at the end of it is a video posted on by Taiwan Independent Media Inc. It is a video of Su Beng's release from the hospital in Japan and return to Taiwan. I was touched to see how Su Beng was received at the airport and to hear many of the things said in the video. In a few days, I will post a translation of what was said in the video.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Bin Hong called today to let me know that Su Beng has safely returned to Taiwan. He was given a warm, rousing welcome at the airport. She estimates that there were about 200 supporters there to greet him. That night, there was also a candlelight vigil held for Su Beng.

It has been a long, exhausting trip and arrival.

Video and photos of Su Beng's homecoming have been shot. I will post links to the video and provide some translation of what's being said in the video within the week.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

The woman behind the man

I spoke to Su Beng's assistant, Bin Hong last Friday. She has been kindly giving me weekly updates, sometimes even several times a week regarding Su Beng's condition. Since Su Beng took ill, she has been traveling back and forth between Taiwan and Japan. In recent years, she has taken over the responsibility of handling the Taiwan Independence Action (獨立台灣會) Motorcade in Taipei. Since 1994, every Saturday and Sunday afternoon, around 3pm the motorcade's propaganda trucks and taxis make rounds in Taipei city and its outskirts (I wrote about it here.). I've sat on the top of one of the Taiwan Independence Action Motorcade propaganda trucks as it went on its rounds around Taipei. I've seen and heard Bin Hong at the helm, speaking over a megaphone- her powerful voice reverberating through the streets of Taipei as she shouts out these slogans: "Taiwan for the Taiwanese people." "Taiwan is not the Republic of China!" "The Taiwanese people must step up and be the masters of their own fate."

She has been there at all of my interviews with Su Beng, which for the most part, are conducted at his home in Sinjhuang. She has facilitated much of my contact and correspondence with Su Beng. She set him up on Skype. She set up his facebook account. And she's been helping me to get all the documentation that I need. I am truly indebted to her and grateful for all of her cooperativeness over these past FIVE (!) years.

Last Friday she was back in Tokyo, hoping that Su Beng would be released from the hospital in a few days time and that she'd to be able to accompany him back to Taipei. Bin Hong told me that though Su Beng's condition is relatively stable, he had had a fever the week before and that the doctors aren't exactly sure what may have caused it, so they've decided to keep him in the hospital for further observation for a few more weeks. So it looks like Su Beng won't be able to return to Taipei until mid-December.

Su Beng and the Taiwan Independence Action Motorcade making rounds to commemorate its 10 year anniversary in 2005.

There are also two other Taiwan Independence Action Motorcade groups making rounds on the weekends in Kaohsiung (which is located in southern Taiwan) and Tai Chung (which is located in central Taiwan).

Meanwhile a Taipei Times reporter recently wrote this article about Su Beng: