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    Posted August 1, 2013 by

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    Taiwanese adaptation of Les Misérables theme song fires up local human rights movement


    When people think about summer time in Taiwan, they often picture the beautiful sandy beaches along its coastline, delicious tropical fruits, and the night markets filled with local delicacies and knock-off brand name products. However, after a series of controversial incidents that have Taiwanese people demanding social justice from the government, the Human Rights movement now can finally be added to the “must-do” list in your summer travel guide to Taiwan.


    Since early July this year, the tragic death of young Republic of China Army (RCA) Corporal, Hung Chung-Chu (洪仲丘) , the controversial forced demolition of Dapu Village (大埔) in Miaoli County, and several arrests reportedly conducted with excessive force by the local police have been fueling public outrage at the government and its leader, current President of the Republic of China, Ma Ying-Jeou.


    The death of young Corporal Hung triggered discussions among the Taiwanese population over potential human rights violations in RCA and the army’s long history of mistreating its service men and women. It has been known throughout the years that RCA soldiers with lower rank or those who dare criticizing the army openly would be mistreated and even punished severely by their superiors. Such scandals allegedly are among the common experience shared by the millions of Taiwanese men and women who have served in the army. Hung’s tragic death would seem like a new addition to such terrible “tradition”; but the public refused to stay quiet this time.


    Since the news of Hung’s death broke out, a month has passed and it would seem like the public has not seen what they have been demanding: Justice. Though several key suspects have been arrested and are under military police custody pending future investigation, issues such as corrupted key evidences and complete denial from the army about high ranking officers’ involvement have only enraged the public further and deepened the suspicion of cover-up.


    The forced demolition of Dapu Village ignited another major protest in Miaoli County, located in North West part of Taiwan. Local officials demolished several residential buildings in Dapu Village late July for an upcoming urban development project. The residents whose houses were demolished protested strongly and claimed they were deceived during the initial government buy-back negotiation process for their lands months before the forced demolition. Such claim can be supported, said the protesters, as the initial announcement of the buy-back was never issued to notify each affected resident but only posted on public billboard in front of local county office.


    On July 23rd protesters for the Dapu Village incident went to Taipei, the capital city of Taiwan, for a gathering and protest event. During which, Hsu Shih-jung (徐世榮), a professor at the National Chengchi University, was arrested while he went to a nearby restricted area set for President Ma’s convoy. Professor Hsu reportedly shouted “Today Dapu, tomorrow the government!” hinting the demolition of Dapu Village would ultimately cause Ma’s political demise. Though Professor Hsu was released later that day, local human rights activists were furious and perceived the arrest as a serious violation of Hsu’s Freedom of Speech.


    As results of these incidents, a local doctor, Dr. Wu Yi-Cheng (吳易澄) , created a Taiwanese adaptation of “Do You Hear People Sing?”, the theme song from the famous musical Les Misérables, to express his and many others’ disappointments and anger toward the government. Over hundreds of thousands viewers have viewed this song and the popularity of it is growing exponentially among the internet users in Taiwan.


    A large scale public demonstration has been scheduled on August 3rd to call for the government’s swift improvement on human rights issues in the military and for a thorough investigation into Corporal Hung’s death. Over tens of thousands of protestors are expected to gather in front of the Presidential Office Building in Taipei. Dr. Wu’s music has been chosen as the demonstration’s theme song; its lyrics will deliver the public’s reactions and demands for a better and reformed government.

    Another version of the music video with much accurate English lyrics has been uploaded to Youtube:

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