Tue, Jun 29, 2004 - Page 8 News List

Letter

Ezell on police `lies'

I appreciate the space the Taipei Times has given to my pending deportation over a volunteer music performance. I have been granted an eleventh-hour reprieve by the Council of Labor Affairs (CLA) and can remain in Taiwan while the decision to cancel my work permit is appealed.

I'm sorry that John Schneidhorst (Letters, June

24, page 8) took the liberty of making slanderous and insulting public judgments on my private life. But I hope that a greater consciousness of the legal rights of foreign residents, be they

of Western, Southeast Asian, African or any other background, will help others avoid the legal predicament that has disrupted my life and work here.

I would like to clarify

several points raised in Max Woodworth's first article ("Singing the deportation blues," June 20, page 17). Officer Peter Chen's (陳允萍) statements that he "didn't see any other performers on stage" and that because of me "a local performer isn't on the lineup" are lies. The night when undercover officers showed up and filmed the Dulan Organic Music Series, a local Aboriginal singer, Long-ge (龍哥), who recently released an album with indie label TCM, was performing. My involvement in that night's performance was limited to sitting in the audience and playing along with the music on a hand drum. The police videotaped me and later claimed that to play a hand drum in the audience at a public performance is illegal.

This performance series was only a few weeks old and did not take opportunities away from local performers. It created them. There is no other venue in Taitung, nor, to my knowledge, along the entire east coast, for original folk music. The event was a sharing of music, dance and theater between Aboriginal, Han Taiwanese and Western performers in a friendly and open environment.

The legal technicalities of Chen's disregard for due process may be too complex to unravel in a short space, but considering their importance to this case, it may be helpful to illustrate the nature of the investigation as it unfolded.

At the very beginning, Chen had the option of warning me about what he believed to be illegal activities, whereupon I could have easily obtained a permit. They are activities that benefit local businesses, the tourism industry, Taitung County's Cultural Affairs Bureau and local artists.

Instead, Chen began a series of threats aimed at me through my friends. He threatened the manager of the cafe with a NT$150,000 fine and through her threatened me with deportation. Chen never communicated with me directly, nor did he formally charge me with any violation. Following these threats, Chen promised me, my friends and certain political officials in Taitung that the case would be shelved if I submitted an official statement. At that time a deputy director at the Cultural Affairs Bureau told me that, as far as the bureau understood, my performing voluntarily was legal,

so there seemed little risk in admitting I had done so.

When I went to the precinct station, I was questioned without being read my right to a lawyer or to remain silent. Only when my answers were printed out and handed to me to sign did I read that I was under criminal investigation. I protested the omissions, as the document began with a statement of my rights in bold type that was supposed to be read to me at the start of the process. Chen and his assistant again threatened me, saying that everything had been arranged for the case to be smoothed over, but there would be "big trouble" (很大的麻煩) if I didn't sign. I signed, and the following week Chen delivered my statement to the CLA, where it was unquestioningly taken as evidence to convict me of a crime I have not been formally accused of.

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