Forced Eviction Stirs Public Outrage in Taiwan

One family in Taipei has rallied support for "victims of urban renewal" after the city demolished their home to make way for high-rise apartments, Loa Lok-Sin reports.
June 12, 2012, 6am PDT | Ryan Lue
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Community rights organizations in the Taiwanese capital faced off against the city last March over a case of eminent domain in the name of urban revitalization. The conflict pitted longtime residents against development interests, and has garnered the support of dozens of local organizations, including the Taiwan Association for Human Rights and the Taiwan Alliance for Victims of Urban Renewal.

The Wang family, which built its house in the Shilin District of Taipei decades ago, had been locked in unsuccessful negotiations with the city for years. But homeowner Wang Yao-Teh claimed the city "had not once been able to tell us what public interest is involved in the urban renewal case that concerns our family."

The home was located on a site selected by construction company Le Young for a new, 15-story high-rise apartment building.

"Although the family has refused to give up its land, the construction firm has already received the consent of more than 75 percent of the landowners on the block, and according to the Urban Renewal Act (都市更新條例), the firm can now ask the city government to help it evict the Wangs and demolish their home," Loa explains.

"The government should not be hired thugs for construction firms, the law needs to be revised," said Chen Hung-Ying of the Alliance for Victims of Urban Renewal. "What is happening to the Wangs is not an isolated case. If we allow such a terrible law to exist without revision, any one of us could be its next victims."

While forced evictions are commonplace throughout China, they are far less common in democratic Taiwan, and have motivated political and legal challenges to Taipei's Urban Renewal Act.

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Published on Friday, March 16, 2012 in Taipei Times
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