Tue, Nov 11, 2008 - Page 1 News List

DPP proposes parade law amendment

STUDENT PROTESTS The DPP hopes to abolish the legal requirement demanding that rally organizers seek government approval before staging demonstrations

By Rich Chang, Flora Wang And Ko Shu-ling  /  STAFF REPORTERS

A man with chains wound around his body holds a placard that reads, “The Parade and Assembly Law is unconstitutional” and “Human rights have disappeared” as he shows support for student demonstrators at Liberty Square in Taipei yesterday.

PHOTO: GEORGE TSORNG, TAIPEI TIMES

The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) caucus yesterday proposed an amendment to the Assembly and Parade Law (集會遊行法) that would eliminate the requirement for protest organizers to apply for permission from law-enforcement authorities.

The amendment would only require organizers to report planned rallies to police.

“If the Chinese Nationalist Party [KMT] caucus does not block the amendment at tomorrow’s [today] meeting of the Procedure Committee and agrees to send it to the legislative floor for Friday’s plenary session, the DPP caucus would ask that the amendment be allowed to skip preliminary review so that it could pass its third reading by Friday. This would mean the students at Liberty Square could go home,” DPP caucus whip William Lai (賴清德) told a press conference yesterday.

Lai was referring to about 400 students led by National Taiwan University sociology professor Lee Ming-tsung (李明璁) who began a silent sit-in last Thursday in front of the Executive Yuan in Taipei.

The students are demanding that President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) and Premier Liu Chao-shiuan (劉兆玄) apologize for what they term the “excessive force” police used against demonstrators opposing the visit of China’s Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Strait Chairman Chen Yunlin (陳雲林) last week.

They are also demanding that National Police Agency ­Director-­General Wang Cho-chiun (王卓鈞) and National Security Bureau Director Tsai Chao-ming (蔡朝明) resign and that the government scrap the Parade and Assembly Law.

The students were forcibly evicted by police on Friday night because they had not filed an application in accordance with the Assembly and Parade Law. They later reconvened the sit-in at Liberty Square at the National Taiwan Democracy Memorial Hall.

Two more groups of students in Taichung and National Cheng Kung University in Tainan launched sit-ins on Sunday echoing their counterparts in Taipei.

Another two student groups began sit-ins yesterday at Hsinchu’s National ­Tsing Hua University and Kaohsiung in support of the demonstration in Taipei.

The sit-ins have been dubbed the “Wild Strawberry Student Movement.”

Lai said the amendment would allow event organizers to report planned rallies to police, rather than having to seek approval from law-enforcement authorities.

The amendment would also abolish an article banning rallies that advocate communism or “division of national territory,” as well as an article stating that rallies cannot be held around the Presidential Office, the Executive Yuan, the presidential residence, airports, important military facilities and embassies or offices of foreign countries, Lai said.

The amendment also seeks to abolish the rights of law-­enforcement authorities to disperse rallies, Lai said.

According to the amendment, if two individuals or groups wished to hold rallies at the same time and place, law-enforcement authorities would have to conduct negotiations, and if the parties insisted on sticking to their plans, the rallies would be held simultaneously, but separated by barbed wire fences.

DPP Legislator Chen Chi-yu (陳啟昱) said Ma had previously pledged that the Parade and Assembly Law would be amended to a “report” system, and that the streets would be “returned to the public.”

Ma should realize his campaign pledge while his party controls the legislature, Chen Chi-yu said.

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