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Over 1,000 raise anti-nuclear flag in front of Presidential Office

2013/03/10 19:26:12

Taipei, March 10 (CNA) Over 1,000 people attended an anti-nuclear flag-raising event in front of the Presidential Office in Taipei Sunday that followed a nationwide protest a day earlier to call for the scrapping of Taiwan's nuclear power plants.

The large-sized flag the activists made during their overnight sit-in protest on Ketagalan Boulevard read "Oppose nuclear power to prevent another Fukushima crisis" and bore more than 1,000 signatures.

People from entertainment and cultural circles formed the Chinese character "jen" -- meaning human being -- and held up banners that read "I'm a human being and I'm against the use of nuclear power" as other participants performed an "anti-nuclear dance."

The protesters urged everybody in Taiwan to do everything in their power to prevent the government from budgeting money to finish construction of Taiwan's Fourth Nuclear Power Plant in New Taipei and installing fuel rods in its reactors.

Construction of the plant has stretched over 14 years and has so far cost taxpayers some NT$300 billion (US$10 billion). It is scheduled to be completed later this year.

More than 6.5 million people, or nearly a third of Taiwan's population, live within just 80 kilometers of the plant.

Lee Cho-han, director of a local anti-nuclear group, said the protest a day earlier called on the government to scrap the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant and decommission the other three nuclear power plants that currently generate about 20 percent of Taiwan's power.

If the government insisted on using a "problematic referendum" to decide the fate of Taiwan's nuclear power plants, the event on Saturday would only be the start of many more protests, Lee said.

The Saturday protest was held simultaneously in northern, central, southern and eastern Taiwan just two days before the second anniversary of an earthquake and tsunami that devastated northeastern Japan on March 11, 2011 and caused meltdowns at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant.

More than 200,000 people reportedly participated in the protest, according to organizers and local media, but police estimated the turnout at around 66,000.

(By Hsu Chi-wei and Jamie Wang)