Forced Land Evictions In Dapu, Miaoli

Forced Land Evictions In Dapu, Miaoli

Protests in Dapu, Miaoli took place with youth activists demonstrating against the government evicting residents of rural Miaoli from their homes because of the valuable real estate they lived on

Protests in Dapu (大浦), Miaoli (苗栗) were another seminal event among Taiwanese activists before the Sunflower Movement, with youth activists demonstrating against residents of rural Miaoli being driven from their home because of the valuable real estate they lived on. As with issues of urban renewal, sometimes this was through development countries appropriating the land of longtime residents for redevelopment projects with the aid of the local government.

Demonstration on July 5th, 2013. Photo credit: Jonathan Feng/Flickr/CC

While there several such cases in Miaoli, with four families slated to be driven off their land to develop a science park but resisting eviction, particularly enraging was the demolition of the Chang Family Pharmacy (張藥房) by the Miaoli County Government on July 18th, 2013 seeing as owner Chang Sen-wen (張森文) was found dead two months after the demolition. Although some suggested foul play, Chang’s death seems to have been a suicide. This had been preceded beforehand by the suicide of 73-year-old Chu Feng-Min (朱馮敏) in Miaoli in August 2010 due to facing evictions from home her home, leading to public outrage after inadequate apologies from then-premier  Wu Den-Yih (吳敦義). There were reports of other suicides at the time, a reaction to sense of emotional bereavement from being driven off of one’s home for decades, sometimes even generations.

Likewise, the Miaoli County Government demolished the crop of Miaoli farmers on June 9th, shortly before harvest, and eventually the homes of the four holdouts against redevelopment were demolished by the Miaoli County Government. Some speculated that, as with the Wang family struggle in Shilin or various military villages facing eviction, the Miaoli County Government may have been acting on behalf of commercial redevelopment companies, a case in which infrastructure development served as a guise for commercial interests through the local county government collaborating with redevelopment companies. Particularly enraging would be the fact that the Chang family would only have, quite literally half a bed left of land following demolitions, since only .6 ping of their home was left after the government appropriated 16 ping, and that claims that the Chang family pharmacy needed to be demolished for traffic reasons were found to be unsubstantiated.

Demonstrations on August 18th, 2013. Photo credit: Lennon Ying-Dah Wong/Flickr/CC

A deadline of July 5th was set for the demolition of Miaoli county homes holding out against eviction. Demolition of holdout homes took place concurrent with a demonstration in Taipei (台北) on July 18th, prompting outrage when video emerged of Miaoli County Magistrate Liu Cheng-hung (劉政鴻) thanking his good fortune for demonstrations in Taipei on July 18th distracting demonstrators in order to allow for demolitions to happen.

As a result, a rally on Ketagalan Boulevard which led to attempts to occupy the Ministry of the Interior took place on August 18th, 2013, marking one month after Chang’s death, an event known as 818. This involved Huaguang Community (華光社區), Victims of Urban Renewal and Eviction (都更受害者聯盟), the San-ying Aboriginal Community (三鶯部落自救會), the Shaoxing Community (紹興學程), the Taiwan Rural Front (台灣農村陣線), the Yuanli Self-Help Group against Wind Turbines (苑 裡反瘋車自救會), the Self-Help Group Against Eviction for Railroad Relocation in Tainan (反台南鐵路東移自救會), the Safeguard East Coast Alliance (不要告別東海岸) and the Chi-ting Self-Help Group (崎頂自救會) as participating groups, although the Taiwan Rural Front is seen as having a large role in this. [1] Fire EX (滅火器) of later fame during the Sunflower Movement also performed.

Posters mocking Wu Den-Yih. Photo credit: Lennon Ying-Dah Wong/Flickr/CC

Attempts to occupy the Ministry of the Interior were led by Chen Wei-Ting (陳為廷), later of Sunflower Movement fame and occupied the external entrance of the Ministry of Interior was occupied until the next day, an event notable as a precursor to the Sunflower Movement. [1] Chen Wei-Ting later accrued notoriety for throwing his shoe Miaoli County Magistrate Liu Cheng-hung in September 2013, when Liu came to offer his condolences for the death of Chang Sen-Wen. Chen later received a 10,000 NT fine for this.

The Taiwan Rural Front was instrumental in coordinating demonstrations, which sometimes took place in Taipei rather than Miaoli, and sought government intervention from the central government in Taipei. The slogan of demonstrators was “Today Miaoli is demolished, tomorrow we demolish the government” (今天拆大埔、明天拆政府), a slogan which also was prominent during the Sunflower Movement and was originally unveiled at a demonstration on August 16th, 2013. The slogan “Fuck the Government,” which was seen on many t-shirts during the Sunflower Movement, also originated from the struggle in Miaoli as a banner design from Taichung-based designer Denis Chen (陳致豪, better known by his nickname of 老丹), along with other apparel marketed by the activist clothing brand radicalization.

Photo credit: Lennon Ying-Dah Wong/Flickr/CC

Following demonstrations, the government later relented on demolition plans, but the harm had already been done, given that suicides had already taken place and these deaths would not be reversed.


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[1] Ketty W. Chen. “This Land is Your Land? This Land is MY Land: Land Appropriation During the Ma Ying-Jeou Administration and Implications for Social Movements” in Taiwan’s Social Movements Under Ma Ying-Jeou: From the Wild Strawberries to the Sunflowers. Ed. Dafydd Fell. Routledge, New York (2017). Online. P. 105-106.


Photo credit: Jonathan Feng/Flickr/CC