The Wild Strawberry Student Movement yesterday criticized the government after the surprise eviction by police early yesterday morning of the 40 student protesters and a group of Tibetan activists who remained at Liberty Square following the students’ rally on Sunday.
“[The eviction took place] less than 24 hours after President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) said [at a Human Rights Day event] that people in Taiwan enjoy the most freedom to assemble and parade [in the world],” movement spokesman Lo Shih-hsiang (羅士翔) told a press conference.
“At about 5am, the students who were staging a silent sit-in at Liberty Square were besieged and removed by police along with about 100 Tibetan activists, without any warning. We are very ashamed by [the police action],” Lo said.
The movement said on Sunday evening it would suspend the sit-in following the rally earlier that day and explore other means to achieve its objectives.
Despite the decision, about 40 students chose to continue the sit-in at the square.
Another spokesman, Feng Chun-shan (奉君山), told reporters police had been urging the students to leave since Sunday and issued an eviction notice at about midnight on Wednesday on the grounds that the students had not applied to stage their sit-in in accordance with the Assembly and Parade Law (集會遊行法).
At around 4am, about 200 police officers arrived to evict the Tibetan activists, who were released in Neihu (內湖) and Guandu (關渡).
At about 5:30am, police moved on the students, who sat down, joined hands and struggled with them.
The students were finally evicted and brought to National Taiwan University.
Some of the students returned to the square yesterday morning, but their tents and equipment were taken by police.
Feng said some students claimed to have overheard police saying that the students were being removed because they had offered supplies to Tibetan activists, who began their own sit-in on Monday.
Feng said the eviction showed that the Ma administration wanted to avoid the Tibet issue.
Zhongzheng First Precinct chief Chen Ming-cheng (陳銘政) told reporters yesterday that the students were evicted because the precinct had received numerous complaints about the occupation of the square.
Asked to comment on the eviction, Presidential Office Spokesman Wang Yu-chi (王郁琦) said all assemblies and parades must be conducted in a legal manner.
Meanwhile, Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Chairperson Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) said yesterday that the DPP opposed the decision to remove the students.
Tsai said police should not have forcibly removed the students, especially as they had agreed to leave.
She said the measures were reminiscent of police action during protests against the visit of Chinese envoy Chen Yunlin (陳雲林) last month.
Police should have waited, Tsai said, adding: “What’s the rush? I do not understand.”
ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY KO SHU-LING AND JIMMY CHUANG