Mon, Dec 08, 2008 - Page 1 News List

Wild Strawberry protest stays peaceful

EVERYBODY STAY CALMThe student protesters and supporters applauded police officers for only issuing warnings and not blocking them or clashing with them

By Flora Wang and Loa Iok-sin  /  STAFF REPORTERS

Hsu Jen-shou (??, director of yesterday’s rally, said the government did not intend to account for or take responsibility for the authority police allegedly abused during Chen’s visit.

“The Wild Strawberries strongly demand that the governing [Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT)] party immediately promise within three days that the power abuse and violations of freedom of speech during Chen’s stay in Taiwan will never happen again,” he said.

Although the Wild Strawberries is a student movement, the parade yesterday attracted non-students as well.

“We have to speak out,” a 63-year-old woman surnamed Chen (陳) said. “Because we’re suffering setbacks in human rights, we’re being betrayed by our own government.”

Chen’s husband and daughter, who accompanied her, nodded in agreement.

Wang Hao-han (王顥翰), a 23-year-old student at Soochow University’s Center for Study of Human Rights, said he was upset with the Assembly and Parade Law revision proposed by the Executive Yuan.

“I’m not sure if I should call it an ‘improved version’ [as the government claims], because the new version is more strict than the current one,” he said. “Right now, an unapproved demonstration could only be considered illegal after the police issue three warnings, but in the new version, you’re in trouble already if you didn’t notify the police in advance.”

The concern of National Chiaotung University student surnamed Liu (劉) perhaps explains why many demonstrators declined to reveal their full names during interviews.

“We’ve observed a rapid deterioration of human rights in the country — who knows what would happen to me if my name got published in a newspaper?” he said. “So a lot of us would rather keep a low-profile.”

Many foreigners in Taiwan were spotted at the demonstration.

Most civic groups were happy to see the number of people on the street.

“We organized various events on human rights in the past month and now we’re very tired,” Taiwan Association for Human Rights secretary-general Tsai Chi-hsun (蔡季勳) said yesterday. “It’s good to see so many people are still concerned about the issue, and remain peaceful the whole time.”

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