Support student protests in Taiwan against China treaty
Students are leading some of the biggest protests in Taiwan’s history. Last Sunday 100,000 demonstrated around Ketagalan Boulevard in the capital Taipei.
They see a new free trade agreement the government has signed with China as an affront to the constitution.
A coalition of students and civic groups has occupied the parliament’s legislature building since the agreement was passed more than a week ago. The protests are a democratic shock to the government.
A few days later the occupation expanded to the Executive building. But riot police with high-pressure water cannons and batons brutally stifled the second protest.
The authorities admit that 174 people were wounded, but claim that 119 of these were police. They can’t explain how non?violent protesters are supposed to have injured armoured riot police.
The legislature remains occupied.
The agreement opens up the service industry market. It covers 64 areas including transportation, publishing, insurance and beauty services and many others. It will affect millions of workers’ livelihoods, but the government refuses to explain exactly what the treaty will entail for Taiwanese citizens.
People are opposed to the treaty for a number of reasons—because of the lack of transparency during the negotiations, because it is anti-democratic and because it is neoliberal. Some oppose it through nationalistic anti-China sentiment, or because they are against the ruling KMT party.
The protests are led by youth and students who have been active since the Wild Strawberry Student Movement in 2008.
But perhaps it is surprising that most trade unions have been indifferent to the protests or even support the treaty. This is despite the fact that it is their members who will face the impact once it takes effect.
Kai-Ti Chiang, University of Sussex
If you saw a truckload of chemicals being dumped in a river you’d be expected to report it.
But try telling Greater Manchester Police that every day at Barton Moss a far greater crime is being committed.
Their Tactical Assistance Unit is engaged in an ongoing war with a non-violent anti-fracking protest camp at Barton Moss, near Salford.
The dangers posed by fracking to our water supplies and the risks of earthquakes cannot be overestimated.
Protesters face police violence and arrest. Visitors are welcome to come to the camp and witness for themselves that the police are indeed Britain’s official gang, our internal army.
Rene Thomas, Huddersfield
Debate not nationalist
Graeme Kemp (Letters, 22 March) thinks Scottish independence “encourages workers to identify with the ideology of nationalism”.
The referendum dominates the political conversation in Scotland right now but narrow nationalism has been largely absent from the debate. Like many Scots, I want the opportunity to participate as a full citizen in a democratically elected parliament located in my own country.
I’m sick and tired of being a subject of the City State of London.
Eddie Rocks, by email
Why is Labour helping the Tories attack us?
I’m so angry at the Labour MPs who voted with the Tories for the cap on welfare spending. They supposedly represent the working class.
The Labour Party brought in the welfare state so why have they sold us out to help the Tories kill it? Most of those same Labour MPs abstained from the vote to scrap the bedroom tax.
Now they have firmly put themselves in bed with the Tories to have the welfare cap from 2015 and to inflict yet more misery on ordinary people.
It will just mean people who rely on benefits—and more and more working households do—will find it even more difficult to pay bills and feed their families. They should all hang their heads in shame.
Stephen Bebbington, Glasgow
Anti-racism march was inspirational
Over 1,000 people marched in Glasgow for the Stand Up to Racism and Fascism demo on 22 March. This was a figure I have not witnessed in past years.
For me, it was a great feeling to see so many of my friends and community groups standing side by side to say there is no space for racism and fascism in Glasgow. I have been a campaigner for migrant rights for many years.
Being involved in such an uplifting demo has motivated me to join the trip to Auschwitz organised by Unite Against Fascism. It will be an excellent opportunity to remember the past and work harder for the future.
Pinar Aksu, Glasgow
Collections build strikes
A couple of Care UK strikers from Doncaster joined us in York last Monday to raise funds.
I had already done a collection in my school. I emailed round before and raised £59.
A bucket collection at the council building depot raised over £100.
We sent the strikers home with over £700 from six workplaces.
Solidarity is crucial to the strike but also opens up discussions about fighting back in our own workplaces.
Julie Forgan, York
Cop body was never neutral
Annette Mackin’s analysis of the Independent Police Complaints Commission was spot on (Socialist Worker, 22 March).
To me, the initials always meant In Permanent Cahoots with the Cops. Good riddance!
Nigel Coward, West London
Send books on socialism
I am an avid reader on world politics and socialism. But my salary is not adequate to buy books.
I am a 38 year old government employee and union member from the agricultural province of Bohol. Some workers look to the Communist Party and the New People’s Army.
But I don’t think armed struggle is the way for the working class.
Can someone donate their tattered books so I can study after putting the children to bed?
Junji Geronimo, Pooc Or., Tubigon, 6329 Bohol, Philippines
A budget for pensioners?
My partner and I are pensioners aged 67 and 62. I cannot work because of illness and had to start drawing my private pension.
My partner also has medical problems and is drawing state pension.
How are we better off now? We have no savings. We live from month to month with help from pension credit.
Thanks a lot Osborne!
Paul Harris, on Facebook