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Taiwanese Writer Finds Poetry in Laid-off Workers’ Railway Protest

Laid-off factory workers facing a lawsuit from the Taiwanese government over “unpaid debt” protested February 5, 2013 [zh] by lying across the tracks at a Taipei train station, bring traffic to a standstill.

The group of workers, who lost their jobs 16 years ago when many factories fled Taiwan for China and other countries to cut labor costs, received money at the time from the government body in charge of protecting labour rights meant to help them get back on their feet. But last year, that government body, called the Council of Labour Affairs, decided to sue the victims, demanding that they return the so-called “loan”.

Image from BoTh Ali Alone.

Image from BoTh Ali Alone.

Not so many people are sympathetic to the plight of these desperate workers. So, inspired by the latest protest, Taiwanese writer-animator ‘BoTh Ali Alone’ [zh] created an illustration to show his support for these victims of de-industrialization.

BoTh Ali Alone's illustration is accompanied by a poem titled “Lying on the Railway”, which he wrote to describe a demoralized world in which people view other people's misery without any sympathy:

《臥軌》

Lying on the Railway

有一座小島,人從出生就住在電車裡。
居民的人生目標就是沿著軌道向前衝
手持車票的居民
從未見過外面的世界,
因為車窗上都是螢幕
播着美麗的風景

There is an island, where people live in the train since they were born.
The goal of their life is moving ahead along the railway.
They have the tickets for the train,
but they have never seen the world outside.
All the windows are covered by the monitors
that show all the beautiful scenery.

別下車
下車你就回不去了
你會發現
政府不停地建設鐵路
電車能去任何地方
卻讓整座島變得沒有任何值得去的地方
除了一望無際的鐵路之外一片荒蕪

Do not get off the train.
If you get off the train, there is no way to go back.
You will find that
the government keeps building railways,
so the train can go everywhere,
but there is no place on the island worth going anymore,
because there is nothing other than the railways.

而買不起車票的人,
住在鐵軌的夾縫中間求生存。
被碾過的時候,
車裡的人還會抱怨路途顛簸。
— with 需要被支持的人.

For those who cannot afford the ticket,
they try to survive between the railways.
When they are crushed by the train,
those on the train only complain about the jolt.
–with those who need to be supported.

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