The 4-5-6 Movement

The 4-5-6 Movement

The 4-5-6 Movement was an anti-nuclear demonstration which was held at Liberty Plaza every week for close to two years

The 4-5-6 Movement (四五六運動) or sometimes just 5-6 Movement (五六運動) was an anti-nuclear demonstration which was held at Liberty Plaza (自由廣場) every week from March 15, 2013 onwards, the 4-5-6 Movement finally holding its final demonstration on its 100th session, close to two years after it began. The 4-5-6 Movement took its name from its opposition to the construction of Gongliao Reactor No. 4 and the fear that the construction of Gongliao (貢寮) Reactor No. 4 would pave the path for more nuclear reactors to be built in Taiwan.

4-5-6 demonstrations ranged every week from having hundreds of participants to only a few dozen, but 4-5-6 Movement demonstration were held without fail on Fridays at Liberty Plaza for close to two years, with organizers and participants weathering even typhoons, freezing temperatures, and other harsh conditions in order to ensure that the demonstration was held every week. A set of wooden boxes was usually used as the stage for the demonstration.

The dance which began every 4-5-6 Movement demonstration. Photo credit: 我是人,我反核!/Facebook

4-5-6 Movement demonstrations typically included a number of speakers, musical or artistic performances, and an open discussion period in which any participant could take the stage to express what was on their mind. Sometimes movie or documentary screenings would also be held, including the premiere of some films in Taiwan. Likewise, some of the bands or artists which played at the 4-5-6 Movement were among Taiwan’s most famous independent bands and artists. A few examples would be bands as Fire EX (滅火器), Sorry Youth (拍謝少年), Macbeth (馬克白), the tic tac, and performance artists such as Huang Dawang (黃大旺)/Black Wolf (黑狼)/Yingfan Psalmanazar (姚映凡) and others. But the demonstration was also an opportunity for many, younger, and less experienced musicians and artists to perform.

Prominent members of Taiwanese society and leading social activists, including many of the individuals who were later key figures of the Sunflower Movement, sometimes also took the stage as speakers. These include individuals as Huang Kuo-Chang (黃國昌), Neil Peng (馮光遠), and many untold others, as well as prominent politicians such as former vice president Annette Lu (呂秀蓮). The famous writer Hsiao Yeh (小野) was another frequent participant, later penning a book on the 4-5-6 Movement.

Huang Kuo-Chang giving a speech at the 4-5-6 Movement. Photo credit: 綠魚/Flickr/CC

While the 4-5-6 Movement was directly concerned with the issue of nuclear power, speakers discussed a range of social issues ranging from other environmental issues to LGBTQ rights and gentrification. Sometimes international speakers made appearances as well, including speakers from Japan, China, and other parts of Asia, as well as the western world.

Fixtures of the 4-5-6 Movement included a special dance which was the movement’s trademark and usually opened the demonstration, as well weekly performances by the “Windmill Chorus,” a group of students from National Yang Ming University (國立陽明大學) who were mostly medical students or cognitive science students who frequently performed at anti-nuclear demonstrations and members of the Yangming Meaningful Club. The slogan of the 4-5-6 Movement was “I am a person, I oppose nuclear energy” (我是人我反核), and another common action the movement would do was to have participates form the shape of the Chinese character for “person” (人) for a photo to be taken from above. The stage of the 4-5-6 Movement, which became the icon of the demonstration, were a set of boxes plastered with anti-nuclear slogans. Lighting was usually set up and all sessions were livestreamed. As the 4-5-6 Movement was a development of the post-Fukushima anti-nuclear movement in Taiwan, attempts were made to connect with a similar anti-nuclear protest in Japan which was held weekly in front of the Diet, but these attempts were ultimately unsuccessful due to the language barrier. Likewise, the bilingual post-Sunflower Movement publication New Bloom was in large part initially comprised of 4-5-6 Movement participants.

Indigenous singer-songwriter Panay Kusui performing at the 4-5-6 Movement. Photo credit: 安竹本/Flickr/CC

While 4-5-6 Movement volunteers came from all walks of life, including students and other young people, working members of society, and a number of retired individuals, the leaders of the 4-5-6 Movement were a group of Taiwanese independent film directors, led by Taiwanese New Wave director Ko I-Zheng (柯一正), frequently referred to as “Director Ko”. This in part is why so many screenings and film premiers were held at the 4-5-6 Movement. In order to have weekly demonstrations which could last from three to five hours, 4-5-6 Movement volunteers, all of which received no pay, put in thousands of hours.

The self-organized nature of the 4-5-6 Movement can be in this sense seen as a precursor of the self-organized structure of the Sunflower Movement occupation of the Legislative Yuan. Within Taiwanese youth activism, the 4-5-6 Movement became a place to gather when major events happened, such as new developments regarding the Wang family struggle in Shilin, in order for there to be critical reflection on the event through the open mic discussion. During the Sunflower Movement, Ko I-Zheng took up a position on the second floor of the Legislative Yuan in order to document the movement through film, and the 4-5-6 Movement at various times occupied a part of the occupation encampment surrounding the Legislative Yuan or returned to Liberty Plaza, in order to critically reflect on events through soapbox discussions.


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Photo credit: 我是人,我反核!/Facebook