Renewed clashes broke out yesterday as self-help organizations against the forced house demolitions in Miaoli County’s Dapu Borough (大埔) protested outside the new Ministry of Health and Welfare in Taipei during a visit by President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九), leading to the arrest of a National Chengchi University professor and another demonstrator.
Four houses in Dapu were demolished by the Miaoli County Government on Thursday last week to make way for a science park project, despite the protests of students, academics and civic group activists questioning the legitimacy of the local government’s actions.
More than 100 people demonstrated in front of the Presidential Office, urging the government to apologize and return the land to its owners before Aug. 18, which would mark the one-month anniversary of the houses being torn down.
Taiwan Rural Front spokeswoman Frida Tsai (蔡培慧) said the central government had connived with the county government, and their brutal actions not only demolished the houses, but also the public’s last bit of faith in the government system.
The groups said the county government even asked one of the homeowners to pay a disposal fee of about NT$242,000 — approximately the same amount as the owner received in compensation for the land expropriation.
They said the request laid bare the “brutal and intentional bullying” nature of the Miaoli County Government.
Peng Hsiu-chun (彭秀春), one of the four homeowners, held up objects salvaged from the rubble of her home.
“I don’t want to stand against the government. I only want a home — a home that I worked hard for. I paid my taxes, but my home is gone now,” a sobbing Peng said.
Tsai said if the government does not apologize to the people, return their land, investigate possible corruption surrounding the project and immediately amend the Land Expropriation Act (土地徵收條例) to protect the public’s rights, they will call for more people to “dismantle the bandit government.”
Several of the demonstrators later went to Tacheng Street, where Ma was attending the opening ceremony for the new ministry.
“[You] knock down houses in Dapu today; [we] tear down the government tomorrow,” National Chengchi University professor Hsu Shih-jung (徐世榮) sang as black official state cars drove by the crowd on the sidewalk.
Hsu, who was shouting the slogan adopted by the protesters, was immediately pulled away by police officers, who said he had violated the Public Safety Act (公共危險罪).
Although he repeatedly said that he had not broken the law, Hsu was dragged to a police car and taken to a police station by several officers.
As he was taken away, other protesters surrounded the police and shouted “use of excessive force.”
Hung Chung-yen (洪崇晏), a student from National Taiwan University, was also taken away by police for alleged violations of the act and malfeasance after he fell to the ground and injured his head during clashes with police.