Call for due procedure in rectifying the Land Expropriation Act

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Farmers gathered in front of Presidential Office to call for due procedure in rectifying the Land Expropriation Act (photo: www.coolloud.org)
NB: This call concerns a domestic struggle, but as part of a global problem

Dec. 12th, 2011
Taiwan Rural Front
Taiwan Farmers’ Union

Call for due procedure in rectifying the Land Expropriation Act

The Land Expropriation Act (土地徵收條例) in Taiwan is seriously flawed, turning the “public interest” into a fictitious pretext and a convenient tool for those in power— both central and local governments—in association with corporate interests. With the assistance of the Taiwan Rural Front (TRF, 台灣農村陣線), a social movement organization, thousands of farmers and sympathetic citizens from various areas in Taiwan have been fighting against this government-sponsored land grabbing. On July 17, 2010 and July 16, 2011, these concerned citizens twice staged a sit-in and sleep-in for “land justice” in front of the Presidential Office in Taipei. They protested against the expropriation of their farmland without due process or consent, the deprivation of the farmer’s livelihood, work and subsistence, as well as the increasing commodification of land and labor. The participants also drafted a revision of the Land Expropriation Act, proposing that forcible land expropriation be ceased immediately. Facing heightened media attention, Premier Wu Den-yih (吳敦義) promised in both July 2010 and July 2011 to rectify the Land Expropriation Act in consultation with the civil society. Nevertheless, this has proven to be an empty promise.

In August 2011, the Executive Yuan came up with their own draft revision of the Land Expropriation Act. However, this draft revision paid only lip service to the demands made in the TRF-endorsed draft and made almost no changes to the flaws in the original Act. Furthermore, last month, to appease the public for the coming election, the KMT-dominated Legislative Yuan manipulated legislative procedure and bypassed the first reading in the Legislative Yuan. On December 12th-13th, the Act moved onto a second reading, which completely excludes public participation and evades scrutiny of details.

In response to the government’s abuse of power, farmers from the “Taiwan Farmers’ Union” (TFU, 捍衛農鄉聯盟) and the TRF have decided to return to the Presidential Office, for the third time, on December 12th, to make the following demands:

First of all, the TFU and the TRF demand that the Land Expropriation Act be rectified in a transparent and democratic fashion. “We will not allow closed-door negotiations. The initiation of land expropriation must be predicated on the public interest, and the fulfillment of the public interest requires the most stringent legislative procedures open to public scrutiny.”

Second, the TFU and the TRF demand that the Land Expropriation Act be rectified in accordance with the following six principles:
  1. A thorough and sustainable plan for farmland preservation, especially the avoidance of Special Agricultural Areas, which are the prioritized farmlands in Taiwan;
  2. Initiation of an evaluation system for land expropriation based on public interest and necessity;
  3. A mechanism for public involvement; current legislation gives local residents and landowners no effective rights to oppose expropriation at all;
  4. Insurance of full compensation for people adversely affected;
  5. Transparent guidelines for relocation; and
  6. Cessation of land expropriation and other illegal legislative procedures, especially the implementation of pre-expropriation public auction.
Farmers showed a solidarity and multilingual flag with words of support written on it by fellow La Via Campesina activists (photo: www.coolloud.org)
Government sponsored land grabbing in Taiwan has caused not only domestic grievances but also international concern. Liu Chingchang (劉慶昌), Chairman of the TFU, recently attended the East and Southeast Asian regional meeting of La Via Campesina, the largest farmers’ movement organization in the world. As Liu indicated in the press conference on Dec.12th, “Our friends in the international community used to have a positive impression on Taiwan, but now they are really surprised and upset about the brutal land-grabbing cases endorsed by the Taiwanese government.” He also showed a solidarity flag with words of support written on it by fellow La Via Campesina activists. These words are written in Japanese, Korean, Thai, Indonesian, Khmer, Vietnamese, and Malay, indicating support from fellow farmers from various Asian countries, including the Philippines, Malaysia and Bangladesh. This multilingual flag symbolizes their support for Taiwanese farmers’ demand for justice and against land expropriation.

Starting at 4:30PM, Dec.12th, thousands of concerned citizens gathered in front of the Presidential Office to voice their demands. Young people and farmers from various corners in Taiwan came forward to express their grievances. The civil action would continue the next day, starting at 10AM, in the form of a sit-in in front of the Legislative Yuan to oversee the second reading of the Act. “We anticipate more farmers, activists, and citizens to join us in solidarity, and we will not give up until our demands are heard and met,” said Liu Chingchang.


List of expropriation sites in Taiwan (with self-help organizations)
 
Local Group against expropriation
Location
Developmental Case
Area of land expropriation
Note
Dapu Self-help organization
Dapu, Miaoli County
Chunan Industrial Park
154 Ha
Unsolved due to dispute of individual case
Wanpao self-help organization
Wanpao, Miaoli County
Houlong Industrial Park
 
334.83 Ha
Overruled by the committee of Domestic Affairs
Chupei Puyu self-help organization
Chupei & Chongling, Hsinchu County
Taiwan Knowledge Economy Park
447 Ha
Promoted by National Chiao-Tung University
Erchung Sanchung Borough small-holder self-help organization
Erchung, Sanchung, Kohu borough, Hsinchu County
Hsinchu Science/Industrial Park Renewal Plan
441 Ha
Statement: Terminate the restriction of housing relocation over 30 years. Reclaim as farmland immediately. Retain all arable land (440 Ha). Protect major irrigation canal, spring, and landscape. Leave the farm and houses to later generations
Chonling urban planning expropriation self-help organization
Chonling, Hsinchu County
Chonling Urban Planning Project
19 Ha
Chonling has negative growth in population. There is no need for urban planning.
Taichung Houli Self-help organization
Houli, Taichung City
The Third Taichung Industrial Park Project
0.6 Ha
Causing serious agricultural pollution to local land
Erlin Siansihliao self-help organization
Erlin, Changhua County
Taichung Science/Industrial Park 4th section, Erlin Base
631.0961 Ha (80 Ha is private owned, the rest is owned by state-run Tai-sugar Co.)
Individual cases are reserved but the whole project is under dispute.
Tianchung THSR case self-help organization
Tianchung, Changhua County
Taiwan High-speed Rail Changhua Station
183.34 Ha
 
Tucheng ammunition depot self-help organization
Tucheng, Xinbei City
Tucheng Urban Planning Project
20 Ha
Total planning development area is 139 Ha
Taoyuan County Subway self-help association
Taoyuan, Chongli, Pinjen, Guishan, Bade, Taoyuan County
 
Taiwan Rail Taoyuan Overpass Project
500 Ha (Include farmland 322 Ha, and housing area 2.7 Ha)
Four thousand households, 20,000 people will be relocated. Currently the ramp design bypasses farmland area, but the railway to be overpass or underground is undecided
Wuje Xinan rural and county association
Wuje, Taichung City
Wuje Xinan Industrial Special Project
498.8 Ha
4000 people will be affected. Since Taichung city and county merged, this project is temporary suspended
Taya Taichung Industrial Park Self-help organization
Taya, Taichung City
Special Reserved Area for Central Scientific Industrial Project
Land mass is 2969.74 Ha in total, including 1743.43 Ha in Taichung County and 1226.31 Ha in Taichung City.
Taya is the few and famous farmland for wheat growing in Taiwan. The case is suspended since the change of administrative regulation
Gongliao, New Taipei City
Kungliao developmental area of 11 sections (including 龍洞、和美、文秀坑、澳底、福隆1~4、桂安1~2、卯澳)
Northeastern Shore Landscape and Civil Activity Alternating Project.
177.94 Ha
Includes 102.56 ha of sectional expropriation project, and natural protection area 75.38 ha. 177.94 Ha in total.
Original source: Taiwan Rural Front
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