10/28/2007

Rock the Dream




I took these two shots on my cell phone last Monday in Hualien (花蓮), Taiwan at the the 2007 Hualien International Stone Sculpture Festival. One pic is a work in the making, the other a winner from a previous year.

The festival "Rock the Dream" is held every two years at the Hualien County Cultural Affairs Bureau Campus. This year it lasts from October 1 to November 4, involving 12 artists from nine different countries, which are the States, U.K., Philippines, Japan, China, France, Italy, Spain and Taiwan. The artists are given slabs of stone which they go to work on in little outdoor booths that are yellow and have flags to identify their nationalities (see above shot). At the end of the competition, the sculptures will be carted off to different locations around the city (the Bureau provides a map to the locations of previous works).

The Cultural Affairs Bureau Campus is near the ocean, so it's a nice place to sit for an afternoon, watching the artists. If they, in their grinding and chipping away at jagged stone, become too intense, there is always the long stretching deep blue to balance your thoughts.

10/10/2007

Double Ten Day in Taiwan



This is a clip of Aborigines being indoctrinated in Taiwan during the 1920s. Twenty years later, 30,000 of the 200,000 Taiwanese that served in Japanese Imperial Army would be Aboriginal. Aboriginal soldiers were considered among the finest in the Japanese army, and were admired for their abilities in guerilla warfare - setting traps and ambushes, finding food to eat in the jungle, path-finding and nighttime fighting.

The Takasago Volunteer Units (高砂義勇隊) are probably the most well-known. They served in the Philippines, and were instrumental in the Japanese victory at Bataan, which led to the infamous Bataan Death March.

I found this article on 李光輝, an Amis Aborigine (阿美) from Taitong, Taiwan, who served in the Japanese Imperial Army and fought in Indonesia. Li, who didn't realize the end of World War II, carried on in Indonesia until 1974:

日文名中村輝夫,出生於臺東縣成功鎮信義里都歷部落。8歲就讀都歷公學校,不但品學兼優,且擅長相撲和棒球,曾代表臺東廳遠徵臺北,戰績輝煌,被譽為最佳捕手。1943年10月奉召入營,編入「高砂義勇隊」,接受短期訓練後,被調往印尼參戰。在某次戰役中與隊友失散後,隻身逃至深山匿跡,其後採食野果充飢,進而自力種植果菜、飼養雉雞、捕捉獵物,數度被蟲蛇咬傷,染患瘧疾,險些命喪黃泉。他所以能生存下來,完全憑藉在野外求生的技能,強烈求生意念與堅毅不拔的勇氣,抱持強烈期望與家人團圓的心願,才能度過30 年長期的艱苦生活。1974年11月印尼駐摩祿島空軍中尉蘇巴迪據報,深山有不明身分者,乃於次月16日率隊前往搜捕,於18日在崇山峻嶺處發現一間約2 公尺見方之簡陋草房,屋外有裸體男人正持刀劈柴,遂將其捉捕。透過翻譯,才知此人為中村輝夫(李光輝),原住臺灣。李光輝被發現之消息傳出後,經國內外媒體報導,遂成為全世界新聞焦點。透過政府與熱心人士斡旋,終於1975年1月8日順利回國。但他重返文明生活不到5年,便於1979年6月以肺癌病故。

This is what the article basically says:

Li was born in Taitong County, Taiwan. When he was eight years old, he went to study at an all boys' school. He was an able student and athlete, good at sumo wrestling and baseball. Li even represented Taitong in Taipei in a sumo wrestling competition.

In 1943, Li volunteered [like many young Taiwanese] for the Japanese Army and was sent to Indonesia. During a battle, he was separated from his squad and deserted (I think). Li escaped to the mountains, where he lived on wild pheasants and game, fruit and roots. Li was bitten by snakes several times and almost died from malaria. A strong desire to see his family once again gave him the strength to proceed.

In November 1974, the Indonesian air force was running some routine exercises when they discovered a two-meter square hut with a thatched roof high in the mountains. A naked "barbaric-looking" man holding firewood and a knife was standing nearby. Upon trying to communicate with the man, the Indonesians realized something was up. Later, they realized they had located perhaps the last participant of World War II - a Taiwanese Aborigine from the Ami tribe.

The story was reported extensively in the international media. Li died in January 8, 1975, Li returned to Taiwan. Four years later, he died of lung cancer. He was 60 years old.

10/05/2007

Amnesty International Taiwan



Ada and Evelyn


Ada and Evelyn were running a table for Amnesty International today, just around the corner from my office. I was lined up for a bank machine when they put a flyer in my hand. I had been trying to block them out because I figured they were signing people up for credit cards.

If you're interested in writing the government of Myanmar to complain about the arrests and murders of peaceful protesters, you can do so at "Foreign Minister Nyan Win, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Naypyitaw, Union of Myanmar".

Ada and Evelyn also gave me a poster introducing the "2nd Murder by Numbers Film Festival", which takes place in Taipei October 12th to 14th at the Taipei Youth Activity Center (6F, No. 17, Sec. 1, Jen-ai Rd.) and Kaohsiung October 19th to 21st at the Kaohsiung Flim Archive (No. 10, Hesi Rd., Yancheng District). Sponsored by the Taiwan Alliance to end the Death Penalty (TAEDP), the program looks promising. Here's the billing: "When the death penalty is mentioned, what comes to your mind? A scaffold, a hangman's noose, stoning, an electric chair, lethal injection, or bullets? When death row inmates are mentioned, what comes to your mind? A devil, a monster, or an ill-fated person? What steps do you think are involved in the death penalty? Prosecution, judgment, execution, and finally justice? The 2nd Murder by Numbers Film Festival will bring you the truth behind the death penalty." They give some Web site addresses for the festival: www.deathpenalty.org.tw and taedp-film.blogspot.com

I mentioned that Amnesty was out on the street, even though a typhoon is bearing down on Taiwan, to my colleague. He seems to think that Myanmar is the trendy place to be indignant about right now. (I guess that's because they're firing on crowds of peaceful protesters and arresting monks and it's on CNN.) He also pointed out that most countries are, in one way or another, up to no good. Who can argue with that? But I'm glancing at the literature right now and Amnesty seems pretty clear in calling "on the authorities to ensure that all people in Myanmar are able to peacefully exercise the rights to freedom of expression, association and assembly without fear of harassment, intimidation or arbitrary detentionn, in line with international human rights standards".