By Brian Hioe

Taipei's Duguan community was dismantled with little fanfare this month, ending the residents' longtime resistance against eviction and urban renewal.

Daguan is a military dependents’ village nestled in Banqiao, a booming district in New Taipei City. Many Daguan residents are elderly and disabled, having lived there for decades. The Veteran’s Affairs Council (VAC), however, wanted to remove Daguan residents from the land, claiming that they were not the original occupants as some residents had purchased the land from the original owners. The VAC intended to impose fines upon Daguan residents for illegally appropriating government property.

After the demolition on August 1, it remains unknown where the Daguan residents will go next. Each household will receive some settlement from the government in the form of a lump sum of NT$360,000, but this can hardly compensate for the loss of homes that residents have occupied for most of their lives. Daguan residents continue to emphasize that they are not illegal residents of their community.


Photo Credit: Reggie You

Evictions of the elderly residents from military dependents’ villages was a major social issue in the years before the 2014 Sunflower Movement. Such urban eviction cases have become less common after the high tide of student activism receded and the current Tsai administration took office.

Previous forced evictions like the Hua Kuang community in Taipei have been executed without a resolution or a concrete plan. Hua Kuang, which was demolished in 2013, remains a vacant grass field to date.

Daguan is one of the few recent cases to attract local media attention with the help of student activists — primarily students from National Taiwan University. In conjunction with Daguan residents, student activists staged protest actions like holding camp-outs in front of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) headquarters, rallying outside of the Presidential Office, and attempting to occupy the VAC. Students also held regular tours of the Daguan Community, explaining the history of the community and introducing local residents to visitors. They collaborated with Trapped Citizens, a left-wing music commune, to hold exhibitions and performances for public awareness. A noise album was also produced with samples of local residents.

Despite the immense efforts, Daguan's eviction case failed to attract popular sympathy in the manner of previous cases. Although Daguan residents and activists have repeatedly raised the issue to the Tsai administration, politicians like Premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) and New Taipei City Mayor Hou You-yi (侯友宜) have shrugged off their demands.


Photo Credit: Daguan Homeless Facebook

Daguan residents protest with flyers that read "Seeking for Su Tseng-chang" and "Seeking for my home."

In March, the VAC issued an eviction notice which mandated that residents would have to vacate their homes within two weeks. After a last series of protests, Daguan residents agreed to leave in exchange for a delay in the demolition. While Daguan residents still attempted to push back on the terms agreement during the delay, the VAC insisted on its right to immediate demolition of the community if any resident broke from the agreement.

30 Daguan residents and supportive activists came to bear witness to the demolition on August 1. Close to 300 police officers were mobilized in case anyone tried to interrupt the demolition, but in the end, Daguan residents did not intervene.

The future of Daguan residents continues to be a matter worth paying attention to, given that they might still face fines or legal charges stemming from previous efforts at defending their homes.

The News Lens has been authorized to repost this article. The original post was published on New Bloom.

TNL Editor: Daphne K. Lee (@thenewslensintl)

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