Tag Archives: falun gong

Human rights

It seems to be an issue all over the world. Discrimination, false imprisonment, torture, lack of or distorted media coverage.

Travel makes me more aware of some of the more localised issues that we don’t hear about in uk. Should we care? Of course. Homosexuality has been legal in uk for 50 years now but there is social inequality among rich and poor. In Taiwan there has been democracy for 30 years yet still the aboriginal peoples are having their land stolen from them by big business.

In Ximen, Taipei, a few hundred metres from the little gay epicentre: several bars, fetish shops etc behind the Red House there is a silent demonstration of Falun Gong technique. In Taiwan gay marriage has now been legalised. In China, gay men still undertake electro shock treatment to “normalise” them. In Taiwan the Falun Gong exercise their beliefs overtly and with impunity. In China they would be heavy handed ly arrested and imprisoned. There are corroborated stories of organ harvesting too.

In Hong Kong the FG have a presence and are monitored by the police and most probably their Chinese masters. I meet Joyce a FG member near the Shrine of the eternal spring in Taroko Gorge. She is delighted I know of their persecution and I sign their petition, just as I signed it at Ximen.

The Peace Park in Taipei has a corner given over entirely to a commemoration of the 228 Incident and its fallout. The museum occupies the former broadcast station from which transmissions were made in 1947 calling for democratic reform. The brutal response of the govt led to the period of White Terror and 38 years of martial law. The museum is painstakingly detailed in the documentation of this most important period of history.

Although the Taiwanese pride themselves on their freedom of speech, peaceful and democratic society and recognition of human rights, there is still not universal equality. Close to the museum is a small cluster of tents. The gateway to the park is festooned with banners and draped with aboriginal geometric paintings, the ground nearby covered with hundred of individually hand painted pebbles, some with slogans. I am told by Iris, a volunteer manning the stall in the gateway, that the stones are both visually and linguistically symbolic, having connotations of pledge and permanence; each stone representing the aboriginal supporters of the cause that this occupation movement are campaigning for. This is namely to be heard and to have a say in the illegal annexation of aboriginal lands by the authorities. This is happening thoughout the island, including hualien and below. Joyce, the FG member from Taroko Gorge, is also an aborigine. Many where brightly coloured embroidered hats or tunics. At the Peace Park in a wheelchair sat the figurehead of the 192 movement: they are occupying the park for 192 days. A fierce looking proud woman with thick wavy hair. As Iris gave me the lowdown, this woman dressed a young friend in traditional indigo leggings and tunic, lacing them tight. They have an all inclusive message and one that we should also take on board when we consider the status and role of migrants and deliberate what kind of culture we want in the UK.

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Day 3: 10 January, HK

Today I go to the congee shop on Kings Rd for mandarin and red bean soup for breakfast and plan my day. I intend to take in some alternative culture and head for the Cattle Depot Artist Village in Ma Tau Kok near Hong Hom on Kowloon. I get there by ferry from North Point. The terminal lined with golf with stalls full of tanks of freshly caught sea creatures and fish. The sun is shining, I almost wish I had my sun glasses. I take a wrong turn and end up on a foot bridge on which a homeless woman has hung her clothes to dry. Beneath the bridge is a cluster of religious icons: bud has, virgins etc. I walk alongside the roaring East Kowloon Corridor which cuts like a canyon through the forest of high rise and disappears into a lengthy tunnel.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cattle_Depot_Artist_Village

The Artist Village is a turn of the century listed ex-abbatoir, complete with concrete troughs and hitching rings. I’m looking for the base of Videotage but they are closed up. There are various artist’s workshops housed in the peripheral buildings. A sculptor surrounded by old domestic appliances, plastic and metal junk welding a new masterpiece. I look at an a couple of exhibitions: one tacking community and living space, the other the fruit of a series of workshops with teenagers.  I watch a documentary filmed in Shau Kei Wan market. I’m disappointed at how little I find and how uninspiring it is. It’s time to walk. The side streets are high and narrow and are populated by car workshops, and lines of washing hung out of faceless windows. Around one corner is a demolition site, the face of a lowly 2-storey house is all that remains of what once was there.

I follow To Kwa Wan Rd a little way, many of the buildings are peeling and date from the 1960s. This is not space age shiny new Hong Kong. There is a workshop in which Lambourghinis and Ferraris are being fixed. Along a less busy road I come across a throng queuing to get into a restaurant, politely being pestered by both pro and anti-Falun Gong.

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I’m searching for a place to eat. The one I’m hunting for is closed and I head further west and into the district of Hok Yuen, a strange mist-mash of shiny new malls, low-rise scruffy streets full of recycling depots, where men are sorting metals, crushing and bailing them, then loading trucks. One small street is lined with fancy elaborately decorated vast restaurants. The street is festooned with red lanterns and christmas stars. At mid afternoon, the street is empty, the restaurants empty. I am intercepted by a woman from the office that manages this private street, and have to account for what I’m photographing. “Not people, not you…really…just the nice decorations…” haha. I eat something unmemorable in a little vegetarian eatery. There is a boy, a college student I guess, who I find quite fascinating.

I end up accidentally walking to the Whampoa. This seems to be a huge luxury private residential development. At its entrance stands the incongruous weirdness of a shopping centre in the shape and form of a ship. Once around Whampoa I am at the harbourside at a steel and glass Harbour Grand Kowloon. Smart bellboys and doormen attending to visitors drawing up in scruffy red HK taxis. I decide to walk in, fully expecting to be stopped, but the doors are open for me. The warmth of the sun over the water fills the lobby through its glass walls. I loiter, linger, look at the cakes in the cafe-bar and watch guests, certainly not moneyed business people, arriving. There is some kind of group thing going on. I catch the ferry from Hung Him back to North Point. It might have been that evening that I went to the buffet restaurant. I can’t remember now.