Sunday afternoons at the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor are usually pretty quiet, not this past Sunday. A protest started by Taiwanese students at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, attracted more than 200 people, including students from the University of Michigan-Flint, Michigan State University, and elders from the greater Detroit area, to Ann Arbor this past Sunday to protest against Taiwan’s Cross-Strait Service Trade Agreement with China.
Due to an illegal move made by the ruling party legislator, Chang Ching-chung (張慶忠), the Service pact was passed out of committee within 30 seconds on March 17th. This was the match that set many in Taiwan on fire and birthed the “Sunflower Movement,” a student protest which occupied the Taiwanese Legislative building on the very next day. After six days without any response from the Taiwanese government, some students decided to further enlarge the protest by occupying the Executive building. The government responded by commanding the police to use brutal force, some of which was captured in photos and videos posted online, in order to remove all the students who were occupying the Executive building. This led to a call for a larger protest in front of the Presidential office on March 30th in Taiwan.
Taiwanese communities around the globe decided to echo the protest in Taiwan in their own parts of the world on the same date. So on March 30th at 4:00pm in Ann Arbor, the “Sunflower Movement” protest began.
During the protest, the crowd chanted “Taiwan, Not for Sale” and “Fight for Democracy” while holding up sunflowers to show their support for a more democratic government in Taiwan. The protest lasted more than one hour as the crowd strode firmly through the center of campus and came full circle back to sing the song “Do Your Hear the People Sing” in both English and Taiwanese.
This movement in Ann Arbor is only one of many that sprang up all over the world to protest against the undemocratic actions done to the Taiwanese people by the current government on Taiwan.