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For a Plebiscite in Taiwan

Hunger Strike for a Plebiscite

Taipei, April 10, 1999

A coalition of opposition groups in Taiwan initiated a hunger strike by some 120 supporters of Taiwan's independence, including a number of legislators, on Saturday, 10 April 1999.

The purpose was to put pressure on the ruling Kuomintang to allow passage of a Bill in the Legislative Yuan, providing for a referendum on major national issues, such as Taiwan's future.

About 1,000 people marched through Taipei to show support for the hunger strike, according to the Taiwan Association of University Professors, which organised the march.

"The issue of Taiwan's national status and controversy over major public policies such as building nuclear power plants need to be resolved by referendum," the association said in a statement.

The cheering protesters marched past the President's Office. The two-hour demonstration ended peacefully.

Dr. Trong Chai, an organiser of the hunger strike and a legislator of the pro-independence Democratic Progressive Party, said: "A plebiscite could be the best solution in solving the problem of Taiwan's sovereignty." He added: "More than 74 percent of people here support a plebiscite in deciding the country's policies. I believe the public is on our side."

Participants read a statement and sang songs before starting the hunger strike in front of the Legislative Yuan building. They include DPP lawmakers Shen Fu-hsiung, Tsai Ming-hsien and Chang Chun-hsiung, Taiwan Independence Party chairman Hsu Shih-kai and former chairman professor Lee Cheng-yuan and a number of overseas pro-independence activists, such as World Federation of Taiwanese Associations president James Lee, and World United Formosans for Independence-USA President Ko Sebo.

"We chose to stage a hunger strike and a sit-in demonstration in order to protest the ruling party's continuous delaying (of a plebiscite bill) and call for public support," according to the statement.

Dr. Chai said the ruling Kuomintang had blocked the bill since its first reading on March 16, 1994.