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Meilidao protests, 1979

J. Megan Greene


On December 10, 1979, International Human Rights Day, pro-democracy activists attempted but failed to hold a rally in Kaohsiung in southern Taiwan. The political authorities had denied the protesters a permit and stationed riot police in the park in which the protest was to have occurred. When the demonstrators decided to go ahead with the protest in spite of their not unexpected failure to get a permit, they were beaten and arrested by riot police, and the event never took place in the way in which it had originally been planned. The state's violent reaction to the protesters, however, stimulated a much greater wave of support and pro-democracy activity than a peaceful and state-sanctioned protest might have done. The organizers of the event were the editors of Meilidao (Formosa) magazine, which had been published since August 1979 by a group of non-Guomindang (GMD) politicians. The event, therefore, has come to be known by two names, the Meilidao protests and the Kaohsiung incident, and it marked the beginning of Taiwan's pro-democracy movement of the late 1970s and 1980s. At the end of World War II, Taiwan, which had been a Japanese colony since 1895, was returned to China, and specifically to the government of the GMD, which had governed China, or at least large parts of it, since 1927. Relations between the GMD and the Taiwanese people had rapidly deteriorated, and following ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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