Thu, Oct 10, 2013 - Page 1 News List

Security to curb traffic, not rallies, on National Day

By Lo Tien-pin, Loa Iok-sin and Jake Chung  /  Staff Reporters, with Staff Writer

A group of college students stage a protest in front of the Presidential Office Building on Tuesday evening to demand that President Ma Ying-jeou step down.

Photo: Lo per-der, Taipei Times

Pedestrian and vehicular traffic around the Boai Special District (博愛特區), which has a high concentration of government buildings, as well as Chunghsing Apartment (中興寓所) — the codename for President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) residence — were placed under a two-stage control process at 10pm last night that will last until 1pm today, the National Security Agency’s Special Service Command Center said.

The National Day Celebration Preparation Committee reiterated a call urging everyone participating in or attending the Double Ten National Day celebrations this morning to not bring any items that could be used to harm others — such as clubs or knives — or items that could interfere with the ceremony, including balloons or horns.

The committee also asked the public to not bring any banners, flags, or fliers bearing any political association to maintain the solemnity of the National Day ceremony.

The center also reminded everyone who intends to go into restricted areas to watch the National Day parade that all bottled liquids would be confiscated at security checkpoints to prevent flammable liquids, chemicals, or explosives from being brought into the areas.

All balloons, remote-controlled airplanes, light aircraft and gliders are banned from the airspace above the restricted zones, it added.

Police, special service agents and military police began setting up roadblocks at key chokepoints in the district yesterday and at 10pm, initiated the first stage of pedestrian control in the areas surrounding the Presidential Office Building and the Chunghsing Apartment.

Generalized traffic control will be conducted from 7am to 1pm today and no pedestrians or vehicles will be allowed to enter restricted areas without presenting a pass to military police.

At least four civic groups that are concerned about cross-strait relations, nuclear power plant safety, labor rights and other issues have announced plans to stage protests at locations close to the Presidential Office Building as the celebrations take place today.

While several protests are expected to be held today, no additional police officers will be deployed to maintain public order, Minister of the Interior Lee Hong-yuan (李鴻源) and National Police Agency Director General Wang Chiou-chun (王卓鈞) said yesterday.

“The public have the right to express their views, while police officers must fulfill their duty to maintain order so the celebrations can proceed smoothly,” Lee said.

“We have not made any special arrangements in response to the protest plans of multiple civic groups, but I would like to call on the people taking part to obey the law while they exercise their freedom of expression,” he added.

The police will respect every citizen’s right to protest and petition, “but when you do so, please try to avoid engaging in physical conflict with police officers,” Wang added.

According to Wang, 323 fewer officers have been dispatched for security this year than were used for last year’s celebrations.

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