Witnessing History In The Making

A month ago today, on March 27th, the Legislative Yuan was still being occupied by protesters of the cross strait services agreement and on that day I had the opportunity to enter the chambers with Su Beng.

Then on April 7th the Sunflower Movement activists who were occupying the Legislative Yuan held a press conference and issued a press release which stated: [...] we've decided that the time has come to convert the energy gathered by a students' movement into a citizen's movement.  

On April 10th at 6pm the Sunflower Movement activists vacated the Legislative Yuan. I was there outside of the building on Jinnan Road with Su Beng. It was touching to see the recognition and applause he received from the crowds gathered there when he arrived. I captured it on video that day and made a short clip of it. *On April 28th I added the video clip to this blog post and you can watch here:

Su Beng sat alongside tens of thousands of supporters of the Sunflower Movement to witness the end of the occupation. 

 Su Beng and his assistant Bin Hong 

Su Beng and his assistant Bin Hong 

Just as I had witnessed the beginning of the occupation, I was there at the end. 

 At the end of the night, the song  "Island's Sunrise" 〈島嶼天光〉  , which has become the anthem of the Sunflower Movement played over loud speakers as the crowd enthusiastically sang along and screamed for an encore when the song ended. 

At the end of the night, the song "Island's Sunrise"〈島嶼天光〉, which has become the anthem of the Sunflower Movement played over loud speakers as the crowd enthusiastically sang along and screamed for an encore when the song ended. 

My time here in Taiwan has been loaded with historic moments like this: the first ever occupation of the Legislative Yuan in Taipei, the birth of the Sunflower Movement (which to date is the largest student-led protest not only in Taiwan but in all of Asia), the thousands of people gathered outside of the Legislative Yuan daily throughout the 24-day-long occupation, the hundreds of thousands of people (possibly up to 500,000) who participated in the March 30th Protect our Democracy Rally in Taipei and thousands more who stepped out in cities around the world- also on March 30th in support of the Sunflower Movement.

The day after the end of the occupation of the Legislative Yuan (April 11th) Su Beng went to Changhua. There he led a procession affirming that the Sunflower Movement was not over, it had just begun; the people of Taiwan would not blindly accept a trade pact with China; the Taiwanese are not Chinese and Taiwan should be independent.

Afterward, he delivered a speech to a crowd in front of the Changhua train station. In his speech he offered strong words of encouragement urging people to be courageous, to stand up for Taiwan's future, and to take back the power to rule Taiwan for themselves.

I was in Changhua with Su Beng and for me it was a nonstop weekend!

The following day while Su Beng stayed in Taichung, I went from Changhua to Tainan to meet with Reverend Kao Chunming (高俊明) to talk to him about the Presbyterian Church in Taiwan. From Tainan I went to Kaohsiung that evening. There I met up with a few friends for dinner and spent the night.

On Sunday, I promptly went back up to Taipei so that I could be there in time for an afternoon meeting that had been arranged between Su Beng and the Honorable David Kilgour. Mr Kilgour is a former Canadian Member of Parliament and Secretary of State (Asia-Pacific, 2002-2003) and we actually met several years ago, through my parents in Ottawa, where I grew up. Before we'd met for the first time, I'd been told that Mr. Kilgour has been a good friend to Taiwan and a very outspoken critic of the Chinese Communists Party's human rights abuses. When we had met all those years ago, I had told Mr. Kilgour about my project to document the life of Su Beng.

With David in Taipei, I was very excited he and Su Beng were going to meet. And I was glad that I'd be able to help Su Beng to communicate with David. Being with Su Beng and Mr. Kilgour in Taipei at the Tsai Jui-Yueh Dance Foundation that day, it was as if certain things in my life had come full circle. 

 Photo courtesy of Bin Hong

Photo courtesy of Bin Hong

David was curious to know about Su Beng and his thoughts on Taiwan's independence, and the Sunflower Movement. As David asked about Su Beng's life, Su Beng talked about his time in China, his thoughts on Deng Xiao Peng, his plot to assassinate Chiang Kai-shek, how his Tokyo noodle shop funded the activities of his underground network, and more. Upon hearing all this David said, "You haven't had a dull moment!" 

After the meeting with David, Su Beng went to the Legislative Yuan and spoke to the people who had gathered in front of the building.

I never would've thought that such monumentally historic events would have unfolded right before my eyes during my time here in Taiwan. What serendipity! But it's all relevant to the story of Su Beng. This latest chapter in Taiwan's history speaks volumes about the impact that Su Beng has had on the hearts and minds of young people in Taiwan. It also can't hurt that I've captured some really amazing video footage as a result.