The following statement was released on April 10th by the volunteers who watched guard over the the second floor of the Legislative Yuan, the only entrance in and out of the encampment for the duration of the occupation, who termed themselves the “Second Floor Slave Workers” (二樓奴工). The original Chinese language text can be seen here.
We are the slave workers who have resided on the second floor of the Legislative Yuan as common workers for the duration of the occupation. During these 23 days, we have defended the second floor entrance; whether this was providing passage for the people from the rooftop, passing materials inside and out, patrolling for safety, closing the second floor all day, we have endured the weight of providing safety, of holding fast to our post no matter what fight was going on. But in recent days, not even one person has come to discuss us with us the state of affairs of the movement, or its development. In the end, we organized ourselves, and individually assisted ourselves in the course of the movement, warming ourselves, and have only come into being formally with this statement. Today we release this statement, on the one hand in recognition of that this movement has delayed the passage of the CSSTA, and that it is up to society at large to wake up and fix this broken representative system. On the other hand, we would like to express that the sudden decision to withdraw has led to the heartfelt disappointment of grassroots volunteers, and so this statement is to express our feelings on the withdrawal.
On the evening of April 7th, the central decision-making body of this movement publicly released the decision to withdraw, but many long-term supporters of the movement and volunteer workers, continued to hold the desire to continue, and feel dissatisfied and regretful that the full demands of the movement have not yet been met. But because there are structural problems with the decision-making mechanisms of this movement, we have no choice but to go with the flow.
Photo credit: Brian Hioe
This surprising conclusion may not be a problem of a specific minority of people, but a product of different factors in the movement which led to the structure of power in the movement being this way. we must reiterate again: The decision to withdraw was not made by all volunteers, much less was it by the “consensus” of all participants. The second floor slave workers only were informed of the withdrawal plan on the morning of April 6th, but the central decision-making body of the movement had already reached consensus on the matter, and we were shocked discover that the “consensus” to withdraw was in reality the decision first made by the central decision-making body, with them only finding volunteers on-site to agree as a form of “consensus” afterwards. We believe that this form of consensus is a false consensus, including the fact that members of the central decision-making body told those who did not agree with the decision to withdraw to find ways of convincing the others, if so. This is a form of lacking faith in the people, not giving power to the people, while pretending that the decision to withdraw was reached in an equal way. We have no way of condoning this. Many individuals were only informed of the decision to withdraw after it had publicly been announced, including many volunteers inside the Legislative Yuan and volunteers outside the Legislative Yuan. We firmly criticize this irresponsible way of treating the people.
Furthermore, the decision-making group chose on their own to repaint the walls of the Legislative assembly chamber before the withdrawal, tearing down the fortifications which had been built to defend from the police and block exits in the process of doing so. We express dissatisfaction towards this decision. We believe that these installations within this space, these traces, reflect the decision of the people to take action into their own hands and fix a broken legislature, eventually leading to the occupation of legislature. No matter what the end results of the movement, movement participants should not castrate themselves of their own will, and erase the traces of this history of struggle.
This statement does not express that we wish to divide the movement. We believe that the insufficiencies of the movement should be revealed and discussed. And with this statement, we hope to evolve from a group of individuals who were banished to the second floor and marginalized from the movement as slave labor, as expressing the thoughts and feelings of independent individuals from different organizations. Today (4/10), the slave labor second floor workers will withdraw from the legislature in our own way, and not leave the same way from the main entrance in the same way as the others, and to build our own stairway to heaven with the strength of the people.
The second floor slave workers would like to thank all of those who cared for us for these 23 days, the supporters of this movement. This movement was not merely a student movement, it was a people’s movement. If we did not rely on the support of the people, the occupation movement could not have lasted to this day.