Taiwan police disperse student protesters against Lo-Sheng Sanatorium relocation

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – The controversial Lo-Sheng Sanatorium relocation began Wednesday as police started dispersing hundreds of students staging a protest on site.

Students had staged a sit-in in front of the Ministry of Health on Monday, asking Minister Yeh Chin-chuan (葉金川) to protect the cultural heritage of Lo-Sheng by applying to related organizations to designate the Sanatorium a historic monument.

The students listed four demands, asking that no construction be started before Lo-Sheng is designated a historic monument; residents should be allowed to stay in the old building; no fences would be set up in the preserved area; and a connecting bridge will be built before construction.

The land on which the Lo-Sheng Sanatorium is located has been earmarked for the Xinzhuang Railyard for the Taipei Mass Rapid Transit and its relocation has stirred up controversy for years. The Taipei County Government recently asked the Sanatorium to evacuate the premises on its own prior to December 1 so the land could be handed over to Taipei Rapid Transit Corporation.

Since 2004, various civic, student and human rights groups have demanded that the Sanatorium be preserved. Residents and support groups have staged protests, proposed a co-existence plan with the MRT, and organized musical or cultural activities to raise awareness for the past five years.

According to its official website under the Ministry of Health, Lo-Sheng sanatorium, which was built in 1930, is the only government-run leprosy institution providing acute and long-term care exclusively for patients with leprosy.

Lo-Sheng’s new building, the Hueilong Branch in Gueishan Township of Taoyuan County, consists of two nine-story buildings, one of which is designated for residents being relocated from the old building. However, some residents are reluctant to move in because the new building design is inconvenient for electric wheelchairs.

by Taiwan News, Website Editorial Staff