Protesters who defaced the Ministry of the Interior building on Sunday may have damaged government property and violated the Assembly and Parade Act (集會遊行法), Minister of the Interior Lee Hong-yuan (李鴻源) said yesterday.
About 20,000 protesters staged a peaceful protest overnight on Sunday outside the ministry compound following a rally against the demolition of houses in Miaoli County’s Dapu Borough (大埔).
The protesters called for changes to laws concerning land expropriation.
Thousands of protest stickers were left on the building’s walls, along with some graffiti, and protesters created a painting on the ground outside the main entrance.
Lee said the ministry has collected all the evidence and would take legal action if scrutiny of the evidence showed that the protesters had damaged government property or violated the Assembly and Parade Act.
While the public has the right to express their views, they should not damage government property or disrupt the regular operation of the government, he said.
If not, the ministry will act according to the law, and “this has nothing to do with politics,” Lee said.
Asked about the police’s handling of recent demonstrations, Lee said the morale of the police force has been low because officers often cannot do anything when they are attacked.
The police should be respected when they are enforcing the law, he said.
Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) caucus whip Lin Hung-chih (林鴻池) said that if there was proof the protesters violated the law, the ministry should act according to the law, but protesters should not be blamed for things they did not do.
However, Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) caucus whip Wu Ping-jui (吳秉叡) said the KMT was using the Assembly and Parade Act to repress protesters, despite its calls to abolish the law when it was not in power.
DPP Legislator Chen Chi-mai (陳其邁) said the act was an “evil law,” and charging people with violating an evil law would only force the public into more resistance.
He said the Legislative Yuan has adopted a resolution asking the government to handle the Dapu land expropriation issue based on the conclusions of a negotiation between the Executive Yuan and the residents.
He criticized the government for not acting according to the legislative resolution and for considering legal action against protesters.
In related news, a Jhunan Township (竹南) coffee shop run by one of the protest leaders, Lin Yi-fang (林一方), which often serves as a meeting place for protesters, was attacked yesterday afternoon.
No further information was disclosed by authorities or by Lin as of press time and the identity of the attackers is not known.
Separately, Miaoli student protester leader Chen Wei-ting (陳為廷) said on his Facebook page that he has recently been warned to “be careful when going out” since “a local political leader” in Miaoli has asked local gang members to “teach him a lesson."
Additional reporting by Loa Iok-sin