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.
PHOTO: KE SZ-CHI, TAIPEI TIMES
“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.
Wang said the police had pulled the shutters down for safety reasons after protesters tried to surge into the store while the police were still talking to the staff.
“Director-General Wang said that the record store violated the Noise Control Act [噪音管制法] and that the police behaved in accordance with the act,” Shih said.
Shih said, however, that the police did not mention the law to the store owner at the time.
After Wang’s briefing, Ma told Wang that the police should inform protesters of the law or regulation that is being violated before taking action to remove them.
“If the police can’t make that clear at the scene, they should be able to explain to the media afterwards,” Shih quoted Ma as saying.
Presidential Office Spokesman Wang Yu-chi (王郁琦) said protesters must express their opinions peacefully and that the police must respect and protect their rights. Ma values the importance of respecting legal activities and protecting law-abiding citizens, Wang said.
Premier Liu Chao-shiuan (劉兆玄) asked the police to be careful in dealing with demonstrators lest it seem that the police are using excess force against them.
Meanwhile, KMT caucus deputy secretary-general Lo Shu-lei (羅淑蕾) defended the police’s actions.
“The DPP should stop fueling conflict,” Lo told a press conference.
KMT Legislator Kuo Su-chun (郭素春) said she was disappointed at DPP Chairwoman Tsai Ing-wen’s failure to prevent members of the DPP from acts of “provocation” and clashing with government officials.
KMT spokesman Lee Chien-jung (李建榮) said earlier protests arranged by the pan-green camp at the Legislative Yuan and other locations had been approved it advance and were respected by the police. Lee said the KMT supported the police’s handling of the protests against Chen over the past few days.
“The KMT supports law enforcement agencies in their handling of the rallies, in which they have protected legal activities and clamped down on illegal ones,” Lee said in a written statement.
Former representative to the US Joseph Wu (吳釗燮), however, condemned “the excessive use of police force,” calling the situation “sad and crazy.”
“Many of the issues discussed in this round of negotiations were discussed under the DPP government. We were able to reach many agreements with Beijing without acquiescing to the ‘one China’ principle or accepting the so-called ‘1992 consensus,’” he said.
Taiwan, he said, used to pride itself as a stable democracy, but the apparent police brutality in the past three days had shamed the country.
He also said Chen was bluffing about his visit being apolitical.
“The very nature of his visit is very politically sensitive,” Wu said.
Additional reporting by Jenny W. Hsu, Mo Yan-chih,
Ko Shu-ling and Flora Wang
FORCED LABOR: Customs officials have seized a 11.8 tonne shipment of products made from human hair on suspicion they were produced by people facing human rights abuses Federal authorities in New York City on Wednesday seized a shipment of weaves and other beauty accessories suspected to be made out of human hair taken from people locked inside a Chinese internment camp. US Customs and Border Protection (CPB) officials said that 11.8 tonnes of hair products worth an estimated US$800,000 were in the shipment. “The production of these goods constitutes a very serious human rights violation, and the detention order is intended to send a clear and direct message to all entities seeking to do business with the United States that illicit and inhumane practices will not be tolerated in
JUST QUESTIONS: Expelled reporter Ai Kezhu said that every member of Southeast Television had complied with the law and had not appeared on any talk shows Two Chinese reporters yesterday left Taiwan after the government revoked their accreditation and ordered them to leave amid a probe into allegations that several Chinese media outlets have set up studios and produced political talk shows in Taiwan. The two reporters — Ai Kezhu (艾珂竹) and Lu Qiang (盧薔) — worked for Fujian Province-based Southeast Television and arrived in Taiwan in December last year. The Mainland Affairs Council has launched an investigation after local media reported that Chinese broadcasters — including China Central Television, Southeast Television and FJTV — had set up studios in Taipei and produced political talk shows. Council Deputy Minister
UPTICK IN NUMBERS: The Taipei deputy mayor said the city has services to assist new immigrants, but has established an office specifically to help those from Hong Kong The Taiwan-Hong Kong Services and Exchanges Office today officially opens, where it is to provide humanitarian assistance to Hong Kongers, after Beijing yesterday passed a controversial national security law for the territory. President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) expressed dismay over China’s passage of the law, saying that Beijing has broken its pledge to allow Hong Kong to maintain a high degree of autonomy for at least 50 years following its handover from the UK. “I feel extremely disappointed [about the law’s passage], which means China did not keep its promise to Hong Kong,” Tsai said in Taipei. Beijing’s “broken promise” also
‘BASELESS ACCUSATIONS’: Ker Chien-ming said it was not possible to drop Chen Chu’s nomination, while KMT lawmakers accused their DPP rivals of ‘homicidal behavior’ The Legislative Yuan is to vote on President Tsai Ing-wen’s (蔡英文) nominations for the Control Yuan on July 17 after Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) legislators regained access to the legislative chamber yesterday after it was occupied by Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) lawmakers for about 19 hours. The Legislative Yuan had been scheduled to meet yesterday morning to discuss its planned extraordinary session, but more than 20 KMT lawmakers on Sunday afternoon broke into the main chamber and occupied the legislative speaker’s podium to protest Tsai’s nomination of former Presidential Office secretary-general Chen Chu (陳菊) to be Control Yuan president. The KMT caucus