Sun, Jan 25, 2009 - Page 1 News List

Police forcibly remove protesters outside legislature

By Loa Iok-sin  /  STAFF REPORTER

About 50 police officers yesterday morning raided a sit-in demonstration demanding reform of the Referendum Act (公民投票法) and the legislative election system that has been camped outside the Legislative Yuan since October, removing tents, banners and demonstrators by force.

The police arrived at around 9am yesterday at the demonstration site outside the entrance to the legislature’s Chun-hsien Building without prior notice and issued an order for the protesters to disband.

About 10 demonstartors were present at the time and they refused to follow the order, after which police began to remove them, their banners, tents, tables and other items by force.

Upset by this, some demonstrators shouted at the officers in protest, but were urged to stop by former Taiwan Association of University Professors chairman and demonstration organizer Tsay Ting-kuei (蔡丁貴).

Although he was trying to calm the other demonstrators, Tsay himself was also upset about the police action.

“I cannot accept a surprise raid like this,” Tsay said. “We will continue our fight until we accomplish our goal.”

The demonstrators started their sit-in on Oct. 25 after participating in an anti-government rally.

When the rally on Ketagalan Boulevard in front of the Presidential Office finished that night, dozens of people, led by Tsay, decided to begin a sit-in, with reform of the Referendum Act and the legislative election system as their main demands.

To avoid blocking traffic, the group later moved to the legislature’s side entrance, and Tsay began a six-day hunger strike until he had to be hospitalized.

The demonstrators have been circling the legislature three times a day in silence, holding placards detailing their demands, and every evening they have invited people to give speeches or bands to play at the site of their demonstration.

However, the legislature didn’t seem to appreciate their activities.

“We kept getting complaints from the legislature that demonstrators have been blocking the entrance, so we had to do something,” a police officer said. “Especially when the new legislative session is set to start on Feb. 2, and the Chun-hsien Building is where the registration of legislators is to be held.”

Soon after they were dispersed, many of the demonstrators, including Tsay, returned to continue their protest.

“We’re not sure how to deal with them now that they’ve returned. We’ll have to see,” the officer said.

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