The Taiwan Rural Front (台灣農村陣線) was one of the organization was formed by scholars, lawyers, NGO workers, students, and others as a reaction to the Ma administration’s passage of the Farmer’s Revitalization Ordinance (農村再生條例) on December 18th, 2008. The Taiwan Rural Front subsequently acted to call attention to the effects of globalization and free trade on Taiwanese farmers and was an instrumental organization leading students to leave campuses and begin to organize to aid the disprivileged elements of Taiwanese society. This was one of the contributing factors in the start of student against the forced eviction of residents of Dapu, Miaoli. In particular, rural activists sometimes differentiated themselves from urban activists with the view that focusing only on cities was narrow-minded, even elitist in standing for rural residents in out of the way places. Demonstrations, then, range from protesting against construction of Kuokuang’s planned cracker in Changhua to taking up the plight of farmers in Erchong or those driven out by the tourism industry in Tamsui.
Members of the Taiwan Rural Front sitting on the site of the demolished Chang family pharmacy on July 18, 2013. Photo credit: Taiwan Rural Front/Facebook
Likewise, members of the Taiwan Rural Front were highly critical of the Ma administration’s pro-China free trade policies and the effects they would have on disprivileged elements of Taiwanese society such as farmers, beginning with ECFA. As with later proposals during the Sunflower Movement for a civil society version of the cross-straits oversight bill, the Taiwan Rural Front sometimes created and pushed for their own civil society versions of bills which would affect farmers. In particular, concern with rural issues involving the land sometimes also had a way of strengthening Taiwanese identity as well as leftist viewpoints. Taiwan Rural Front was later on one of the organization which participated in the Sunflower Movement. The Taiwan Rural Front came to have over 2,000 members, with its spokesperson Frida Tsai (蔡培慧), later a DPP legislator.