Premier Jiang Yi-huah (江宜樺) yesterday censured media outlets for what he called distorted coverage of the movement against the cross-strait service trade pact and rejected comparisons of the dispersal of protesters at the Executive Yuan to Beijing’s crackdown on the 1989 pro-democracy movement in China, saying that police’s use of force at the Taipei complex was “legitimate.”
The parallel between yesterday morning’s removal of the activists occupying the Executive Yuan compound and the Chinese government’s suppression of the Tiananmen Square student protests has been drawn by several media outlets, politicians and commentators.
At an 11am press conference yesterday, Jiang said he “protested certain media outlets” for reportedly saying that the government’s actions constituted a “bloody suppression” of the protesters.
He condemned the publication and repeated broadcast of “images of wounded people,” saying media outlets have “highly distorted the facts” and “misled the public” by producing such coverage.
Jiang also rejected the view expressed by Taiwan Solidarity Union Chairman Huang Kun-huei (黃昆輝) and others that the incident at the Executive Yuan was “Taiwan’s version of Tiananmen Square,” saying that “the majority of people would not agree with that.”
Several dozen demonstrators were injured during the operation to expel them from the Executive Yuan, suffering generally minor injuries such as cuts or abrasions to their heads and faces. Many injuries appeared to be obtained when demonstrators sat or lay down with linked arms to resist the officers’ efforts to move them.
The police are trained to act in as peaceful and rational a manner as possible when required to use force against demonstrators, Jiang said.
“It’s not that the police were mobilized to force any one participating in marches off the streets. On the contrary, it was only the people who burst into the main building of the Executive Yuan to try and paralyze the government [who were targeted],” Jiang said.
Had he not ordered the police to evict the protesters, Jiang said he would have “failed the public” because did not perform his duty as premier well.
Asked by the Taipei Times if police had used excessive force, seeing as the protesters were unarmed and conducting a peaceful sit-in, Jiang said the officers had not been overly forceful.
The premier said he told National Police Agency Director-General Wang Cho-chiun (王卓鈞) before the dispersal that the officers should take care not to hurt anyone.
“What I saw reported in the press is that when the police tried to disperse the protesters, they either lifted them from the ground or patted them on the shoulder to get them to leave. I also saw some protesters leave without being pulled by the police,” he said.
“The police may need to improve certain law enforcement measures, but they never use unnecessary force against civilians,” Jiang said.
He said the exertion of police authority was “legitimate,” considering the site of the demonstrations.
The Executive Yuan is the government’s highest administrative organ and, since the complex houses documents of national interest and serves as a national command center in emergencies, “any attempt to attack, occupy, or paralyze it is impermissible,” Jiang said.
The premier said the government must ensure that the Executive Yuan is operating normally 24 hours a day, seven days a week.