Supporting the People of Democratic Taiwan Against China's Missile Deployment sign now

For the 23-million citizens of democratic Taiwan, threats from China to their democracy and self-determination are constant, and growing. Today is a critical time to understand the story of Taiwan, and for you and I to voice support of the democracy that Taiwan has become.

On February 28, 2004, a heartfelt cry of pain, frustration, determination, and unity came from one of the leading democracies in East Asia. An estimated 1.5-million citizens of Taiwan lined the western border of Taiwan, from the northern to the southern tip of the island, and joined and raised their hands collectively to form a 500-km human chain. Many in tears, they shouted the slogans, love peace, oppose missiles, unity among ethnic groups, and join hands to protect Taiwan.

February 28 marks what was once a scathing scar for the people of Taiwan, now designated National Peace Day. That day in 1947 was the beginning of a nightmarish year, when tens of thousands of Taiwanese were systematically murdered by the Kuomingtang (KMT) Nationalists recently arrived from China. When the Japanese colonizers of Taiwan surrendered to the Allies in 1945, the Allies allowed Chiang Kai-shek and his KMT regime temporary administrative control of Taiwan. Unfortunately for the people of Taiwan, the KMTs dictatorial rule soon became brutal (and permanent, as later Mao Tze-tung and the Communist Revolution in China forced the KMT regime to flee and set up headquarters in Taiwan). Within a few years, the KMT wiped out a generation of Taiwans intellectual middle class and cast a thick cloud of hardship and terror upon the islands people. During the next 40 years, as Taiwan endured the brutality and suppression of KMT martial law rule, mention of the traumatic 228 Massacre was forbidden, and human rights was a faraway dream in the midst of continual murders, imprisonments, government blacklists, and what many historians have called the iron fist rule of the KMT military regime over the islands people.

However, in the past twenty years, through the sacrifices and passion of multitudinous Taiwanese and foreign democracy advocates, Taiwan has liberalized tremendously both socially and politically. Nearly a decade after the lifting of martial law, in 1996, Taiwan held its first-ever democratic election, and in 2000, the country peacefully transferred power to the elected opposition party, ending 50 years of KMT rule. Taiwan has miraculously evolved into a full-democracy and a leader and champion of human rights in the world. U.S. lawmakers have repeatedly termed Taiwan a model for democracy in Asia.

While within Taiwan, such incredible strides have been made in so short a time, outside of Taiwan, Chinas strong-arm forces still act to threaten, intimidate, and subvert the 23-million Taiwaneses ability to freely exercise their democracy. China considers Taiwan a renegade province and has accepted no other basis for negotiation except that Taiwan consent to annexationand China has repeatedly demonstrated the use of military force as a means to that end.

China is currently pointing 496 missiles at Taiwan from only 100 miles away. In the weeks and days before Taiwans elections in 96 and 00, China fired missile tests off the shore of Taiwan; and in the upcoming Taiwanese elections in March, China is projected to again mobilize military forces in an attempt to intimidate the 23 million citizens of Taiwan. Many international military analysts and strategists even worry that Chinas accelerated buildup, in the past and upcoming years, could soon give it the edge and capability to forcefully overtake Taiwan.

Whatever the question on Taiwan's national agenda may be-whether it is, Does Taiwan want to declare de jure independence, putting into words on the worlds stage its already obvious de facto independence? Should Taiwan ever accept an eventual One China, Two Systems, policy similar to that of Hong Kong? Why is Taiwan still not allowed participation in the United Nations or the World Health Organization, even as the SARS outbreak hit at home last year? or even the most basic democratic question, Who should I vote for?-Chinas missiles, military buildups, and aggressive threats unfortunately play the same role that a bully plays, when a class and its individuals attempt to formulate opinions and decisions. How could one not feel nervous, walking into a voting booth with an armed aggressor pointing weapons at you, constantly threatening to shoot at every movement?

On February 28, 2004, the people of Taiwan once again far exceeded the expectations of doubters-just like they surprised China by going to the voting booths in both 96 and 00 despite Chinas firing missiles into the Taiwan Strait. On stage with representatives from all of Taiwans Hakka, Hokhlo, mainlander, aborigine, and other various ethnic groups, President Chen announced to the 500-km-long chains of Taiwanese, The Taiwan people have used the most simple, solemn and sacred method of hands linked in hand to express to the world their resolve to protect Taiwans sovereignty and democratic development, economic prosperity and lasting peace in the Taiwan Strait. Asked why they joined the rally, a participant in Taipei responded, "We joined the rally to tell China that Taiwanese people hold the ultimate say in their own future." Another woman, who brought five of her children and grandchildren to join the chain, responded that she was angry at the Chinese missile deployment, asking, How can we remain silent?

On February 28, 2004, Taiwans President Chen called the historic 1.5-million-person human chain a great wall of democracy, and added, We showed the world our determination to recognize Taiwan and protect Taiwan. Let us now all show that we have heard the voice of the people of Taiwan, and that we echo and support their rights to democracy, self-determination, and freedom from military intimidations. For peace, for human rights of the people of Taiwan, for security in East Asia, China must immediately withdraw its missiles aimed at Taiwan.

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Cora DavilaBy:
Petition target:
23-million Citizens of Taiwan, Democracies of the World, Belligerent Govt. of China


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