A music festival at the National Taiwan University (NTU) was cut short on Sunday after it took a sharp turn towards violence with skirmishes breaking out between pro-independence students and those supporting reunification with the mainland.
The “Sing! China: Shanghai-Taipei Music Festival” was jointly supported by the city governments of Shanghai and Taipei along with the popular singing talent show “Sing! China.” However, it was not supported by a group of angry NTU students who argued that the festival had caused the school’s sports field to be closed to students for a week while preparations were made and that it had caused damage to the newly-renovated facilities there.
In addition, students did not like how one event poster from a Chinese organizer had changed the name of their school from the “National Taiwan University” to the “Taipei Municipal Taiwan University.”
Before the festival kicked off at 2 pm, the students protested outside. Soon, they bought tickets and moved their protest inside, shouting slogans, waving banners and doing whatever they could to drown out the singers on stage. Eventually, they stormed the stage itself, bringing the festival to an early end.
While the “Sing! China” festival was scheduled to conclude at 10 pm, NTU officials ordered that the festival be cut short for safety reasons after 4 pm. As the crowd dispersed, things quickly descended into chaos and violence as the protesters clashed with pro-China supporters.
In the ensuing scuffles, at least two students were injured by members of pro-unification parties. Video was captured and shared on Facebook of one man going after students with a metal baton.
The man, 61-year-old Hu Ta-kang, was arrested by police afterward for injuring an NTU student.
In addition, the police also summoned the son of Chang An-lo and questioned him for four hours. Also known as the “White Wolf,” Chang is a former gangster who now heads the Chinese Unity Promotion Party. Afterward, Chang’s son, Chang Wei, told reporters that he had arrived at the festival to “rescue people” after reports of violence. When asked if he had physically assaulted students, he declined to answer.
Video has also hit Facebook showing Chang and his underlings going after student protesters.
In a post published earlier today, the Taiwan Foundation for Democracy argues that pro-unification forces are starting to rely more and more on violence to reach their aims. “These acts of violence, and the fierce debates that follow, are meant to spread fear, distrust and division within society, and to undermine democratic institutions,” the post reads.
In the aftermath of the concert, some police officers have been disciplined for letting the event get so out of hand and failing to “respond properly” to violence. The officers were given transfers or demerits.
[Images via Apple Daily / Central News Agency]
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