Wed, Apr 01, 2009 - Page 1 News List

Police sorry over blogger incident

POLICE STATE?Two police officers were sent to a meeting of bloggers, where they asked participants to show their ID and give their cellphone numbers

By Mo Yan-chih  /  STAFF REPORTER

Taipei City’s Department of Police apologized on Monday for interrupting a private gathering of political bloggers and promised to improve measures to respect people’s rights and privacy.

Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Taipei City councilors Chien Yu-yen (簡余晏) and Yen Sheng-kuan (顏聖冠) criticized the department for sending two police officers to a private meeting held by the Taiwan Blogger Association on Saturday and intimidating the participants by asking them to show their ID.

Yang Hui-ju (楊蕙如), a Web manager for former DPP presidential candidate Frank Hsieh’s (謝長廷) campaign, said the association had invited Hsieh and former vice premier Yeh Chu-lan (葉菊蘭) to a private meeting to commemorate Yeh’s husband, democracy movement pioneer Deng Nan-jung (鄭南榕), who committed suicide in 1989, and discuss freedom of speech.

Two police officers from the department entered the meeting and asked the association’s secretary-general to explain why they were there, while asking participants to provide their ID and cellphone numbers, said Yang, who was at the meeting.

“The meeting was a simple and private gathering, but the two police officers abused their authority and undermined freedom of speech,” Chien said.

Yen also accused the department’s Zhongshan branch of violating human rights, saying it had made several phone calls to the association before the meeting and shown up at the meeting to request more information.

“The meeting was held at the association’s office and no illegal activity was involved. The police’s action was illegal,” she said.

Hung Sheng-kun, commissioner of the department, later acknowledged the department’s poor handling of the matter and took disciplinary action against the director of the department’s security office, Tsai Wang-lai (蔡萬來), and four other officers.

Hung said the department would educate police officers on such matters and better protect people’s rights.

At a separate setting yesterday, director of the DPP’s Department of Youth Development, Chao Tien-lin (趙天麟), demanded during a press conference that National Security Council Secretary-General Su Chi (蘇起) and National Police Agency Director-General Wang Cho-chiun (王卓鈞) apologize over the incident.

Chao said that since the visit of Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Strait Chairman Chen Yunlin (陳雲林) in November, police and the authorities had launched a number of investigations “to control the public.”

ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY RICH CHANG

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