Members of the Wild Strawberry Student Movement yesterday slammed the indictment of National Taiwan University sociology professor Lee Ming-tsung (李明璁) for allegedly violating the Assembly and Parade Act (集會遊行法) during a sit-in last November.
Movement spokesman Chang Chih-hao (張之豪) said the students regretted the development, but said the indictment was “predictable.”
“We realize after months of peaceful protest that this government did not feel any remorse for what they did,” Chang said during an English interview with the Taipei Times. “They still don’t think they have done anything wrong.”
Chang was referring to the manner in which law enforcement officers dealt with demonstrations against the visit of Chinese envoy Chen Yunlin (陳雲林) in November.
Lee was one of the initiators of the sit-in in front of the Executive Yuan on Nov. 6 along with a group of students who dubbed themselves the Wild Strawberry Student Movement. They called on the government to scrap the requirement in the assembly Act that rally organizers must seek government approval before staging a demonstration. Participants were evicted by the police for not applying to hold the sit-in, but reconvened later at National Taiwan Democracy Memorial Hall.
The protesters had demanded that President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) and Premier Liu Chao-shiuan (劉兆玄) apologize and that National Police Agency Director-General Wang Cho-chun (王卓鈞) and then-National Security Bureau director-general Tsai Tsao-ming (蔡朝明) step down for what they called the “excessive force” police used against demonstrators.
Chang said the indictment revealed “the authoritarian mindset” of the government as prosecutors still considered Lee “the chief instigator” of the movement while ignoring the fact that college students in the movement were “well-informed” and could take responsibility for their own actions.
“We were not following Lee. We were following our heart,” Chang said, adding that the students regarded Lee as a “comrade” rather than a “leader.”
Chang said the students would take measures to voice concern about the indictment, but did not elaborate.
The indictment, issued on May 15 by the Taipei District Prosecutors’ Office, stated that Lee “is well aware that assembly and parades are prohibited without submitting an application in advance,” but did not do so when he led hundreds of students and civic group members to the sit-in.
Although police officers held up signs several times informing Lee and other demonstrators that their demonstration was in violation of the Act, Lee “refused to heed the warnings given by the police and continued to lead the crowd in protest,” the indictment read.
Prosecutors alleged Lee violated Article 29 of the Act, which states that a leader of demonstrators who refuse to disassemble after being told to do so by authorities may face up to two years in prison.
Lee’s attorney, Kao Yung-cheng (高涌誠), yesterday declined to comment on the indictment.