Perhaps 05.21.2014 started out like any other day in Taiwan. I had heard about the 豪雨 that had passed. 豪雨 are sudden storms that can have typhoon (hurricane) force winds and a riduculous amount of rain. It’s never fun being caught in one and can also cause flooding issues. An earthquake centered in 花蓮 happened at around 8 am in the morning, measuring at 5.9 on the Richter scale. Earthquakes of that magnitude are not surprising, and I haven’t heard of any major injuries or damage.
What I did not expect was finding out that a second year college student had stabbed passengers on 捷運 (Taipei Metro; MRT) at around 4 pm just as rush hour was starting. Four people have died and twenty-one were injured. Violence like this is uncommon in Taipei and all of Taiwan.
This is especially scary because people take 捷運 all the time – to work, to school, just as a general mode of transportation. It is usually a place where the hospitality and generosity of Taipei can be seen. Designated seats for the elderly sometimes sit empty because no one wants to take those seats. The stations and trains are clean. There are designated train cars for bikes. People wait for passengers on the train to exit before boarding.
I’m in complete shock and had to stop looking at news articles and pictures. There was blood on the train and on the platform. There is video footage, but I decided against looking at it. I read some first-person accounts of the incident and they are frightening. There were some courageous uncles who used umbrellas to try to keep the assailant at a distance.
Unfortunately this type of situation is one of the few times Taiwan makes on the global news. It looks like many papers decided to publish the Associated Press article on this incident; I don’t remember seeing that many papers publish the AP or Reuters articles on the Sunflower Movement. This is also the type of situation where the Taiwanese media starts showing poor journalism ethics and sensationalizes the incident. I’m going to try to choose the better articles, but sometimes it might not be possible because it may be the only article that mentions something important.
4 People Killed in Taiwan Subway Stabbing Spree – Associated Press
Taiwan Student Detained After Four Killed in Subway Attack – Bloomberg
MRT attacker kills 4 people, injures 22 – Taipei Times
Blaming the Sunflower Movement for the 521 Massacre – Thinking Taiwan
Sunflower Activist Terrorizes Taipei Subway, 4 Dead – Dallas Blog
This is really scary. I did read in the Taiwanese media that some politicians were trying to blame this on the Sunflower Movement. The stabbing and the Sunflower Movement are completely unrelated. I was glad that J. Michael Cole wrote an essay regarding this issue on Thinking Taiwan. However, I did not think this falsehood would be published in English.
北捷隨機砍人 21歲大學生：從小立志做大事 – 新頭殼newtalk
不要進去！ 染血婦逃出大喊：裡面有人有刀 – 聯合報
走開走開！雨傘哥、白髮伯 勇擋凶嫌 – 聯合報
北捷砍殺案鄭嫌 法官複訊後裁定收押 – 新頭殼newtalk
我是江子翠人，我想活在更好的社會 – 想想Thinking Taiwan
Fw: [討論] 由台北江子翠捷運案討論犯罪心理學 – 看板 PublicIssue – 批踢踢實業坊
精神醫學會：悲劇後面都有求援的聲音 – 新頭殼newtalk
民眾為北捷亡者獻花：會讓台灣變更好 – 新頭殼newtalk