Thu, Nov 06, 2008 - Page 1 News List

DPP pans ‘excessive’ police force

SILENCEDFootage from news stations showed police officers forcing a record store to switch off its music and pulling down the metal shutters in front of the entrance

By Rich Chang And Shih Hsiu-chuan  /  STAFF REPORTERS

Independence activists struggle with police during a protest near the Grand Formosa Regent hotel yesterday, where Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Strait Chairman Chen Yunlin attended a dinner with KMT Chairman Wu Poh-hsiung.

PHOTO: AFP

Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Taipei City councilors accused the police yesterday of heavy-handed tactics in dealing with Tuesday night’s protests over the visit of Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Strait (ARATS) Chairman Chen Yunlin (陳雲林).

Scuffles erupted when police officers tried to disperse hundreds of protesters gathering near the Ambassador Hotel on Zhongshan N Road, where Chen was having dinner with former KMT chairman Lien Chan (連戰).

The protesters were pushed away from the area surrounding the hotel to near the intersection of Zhongshan N Road and Minsheng E Road, by the Sunrise record store.

The clash intensified when several police officers entered the store, which was playing Falling in Love with the North-link Line (戀戀北迴線), a patriotic Taiwanese song on an album called Songs of Taiwan, produced by the culture agency of the former DPP government to promote Taiwanese national consciousness.

Footage from TV news stations showed the police forcing the store to switch off the music and pulling down the store’s metal shutters.

Councilor Yen Sheng-kuan (顏聖冠) told a press conference that police officers rushed into the store soon after the store started playing the song.

“What law did the store owner violate? Can police enter a private place and force a store to close without a search warrant issued by judges?” she asked.

“Is Taiwan still a democracy?” Councilor Hung Chien-yi (洪健益) asked.

DPP councilors had invited Taipei City Police Department Beitou District head Lee Han-ching (李漢卿), who was in charge of the police involved in the incident, to attend the press conference, but he did not attend.

Hung called Lee during the press conference, asking him to explain what had happened and apologize.

“Several people, including the store owner, were injured in the incident. You must step down and take responsibility for the actions of these police officers,” Hung said.

“I can explain the incident,” Lee replied, “but I will not apologize. The store owner is welcome to file a lawsuit against me.”

“I was injured too in yesterday’s incident. Do you want to come see my injury?” he asked.

Sunrise owner Chang Pi (張碧) yesterday told TVBS that police officers had rushed into her store and that in the tumult she had sustained injuries to her face and body before police pulled down the store’s shutters.

Separately, the DPP legislative caucus also criticized the police.

“An outsider, Chen Yunlin, has arrived and you [President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九)] have trampled on the Taiwanese to such a degree. Shame on you, shame on you,” DPP whip William Lai (賴清德) told a press conference.

Lai filed a lawsuit against Lee and National Police Agency (NPA) Director-General Wang Cho-chiun (王卓鈞), accusing them of violating the law against “malfeasance in office” and offenses against personal liberty.

In response to the allegations of rough police tactics, Executive Yuan Spokeswoman Vanessa Shih (史亞平) quoted Ma as telling a high-level meeting with Wang, Executive Yuan officials and the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) yesterday that “commanding officers at the scene should be given full authority to decide how to maintain order, as only they understand what is happening.”

Shih quoted Wang as saying at the meeting that the police had gone into the store to ask the owner to turn down the music because it was too loud. The police did not intend to force the store to turn off the music or target it because it was a Taiwanese song, Wang said.

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