An activist group plans to stage a street demonstration today over the death earlier this month of an army conscript, who had been punished for bringing a cellphone equipped with a camera onto his base.
Citizen 1985, the activist group that is organizing the demonstration, said yesterday that at least 5,000 people are set to join the protest to urge the Ministry of National Defense (MND) to reform its disciplinary system.
The protesters plan to gather at 9am in front of the ministry’s building in Taipei, demanding the intervention of a third party in the investigation into the death of Hung Chung-chiu (洪仲丘) on July 4.
After a march through the streets near the ministry, the demonstrators are to hold a vigil in the evening in memory of Hung near the Legislative Yuan, Citizen 1985 said.
About 10,000 people have indicated on the group’s Facebook page that they would join the protest, a spokesman said, adding that at least 5,000 people can be expected to show up.
Hung’s sister, Hung Tzu-yung (洪慈庸), and several military human rights activists are expected to attend the vigil, the spokesman said.
Led by Citizen 1985, the demonstrators are to call on the ministry to reveal the truth about Hung Chung-chiu’s death, bring the perpetrators to justice and punish those involved, in order to protect service personnel’s rights and ensure a safe reporting system.
Hung Chung-chiu’s unit in the army’s 542nd Brigade in Hsinchu County sent him to the 269th Brigade in Taoyuan on June 28 for disciplinary action.
He was scheduled to remain in confinement for a week, but after days of punishing exercises in extreme heat and humidity, he collapsed on July 3 and died a day later, according to a preliminary investigation.
Before being sent to Taoyuan, Hung had a check-up at a military hospital, which is required before a soldier can be confined to detention barracks. The hospital had said its report would not be ready for several days.
The hospital yesterday denied that Staff Sergeant Fan Tso-hsien (范佐憲) had bribed its medical staff with soft drinks to process Hung Chung-chiu’s report in half a day so that he could be sent to the detention barracks almost immediately.
It was also alleged that Fan had been involved in an underground lending business and underground lottery. However, Director of Army Headquarters Tseng Yu-fu (曾有福) yesterday said that the army had no evidence to support the allegations.
Tseng also said there was no proof that a 30-minute video of Hung drilling in the detention barracks had been destroyed.
Military prosecutors have questioned Fan and at least nine people, including Deputy Brigade Commander Ho Chiang-chung, Company Commander Hsu Shin-cheng (徐信正) and Staff and Warrant Officer Chen Yi-jen (陳以人), who are suspected of involvement in Hung’s death.