Despite being shown pictures and video footage of protesters bleeding or being beaten up by police officers, law enforcement officials yesterday denied that the police had used excessive force as they evicted protesters from the Executive Yuan complex in Taipei early on Monday.
National Police Agency (NPA) Director-General Wang Cho-chiun (王卓鈞) told a meeting of the legislature’s Internal Administration Committee that “all police officers observed the code of conduct” in dispersing the protesters.
Wang, Minister of the Interior Chen Wei-zen (陳威仁) and Executive Yuan Secretary-General Lee Shu-chuan (李四川) were present at the committee meeting called by Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) lawmakers to investigate what has been termed a “bloody crackdown on unarmed students.”
Thousands of protesters, mainly students, occupied the Executive Yuan on Sunday night to increase pressure on the government to respond to their demands to revoke the cross-strait service trade agreement and enhance legislative oversight of cross-strait negotiations.
The DPP organized the meeting in response to Premier Jiang Yi-huah’s (江宜樺) comments that the police “acted in a rational and peaceful way” by either lifting the protesters up from the ground or patting their shoulders.
In response to media inquiries, Wang said before the meeting began that the police’s dispersal actions should not be described as use of violence.
“How could the carrying out of police duties be called ‘use of violence?’” Wang said.
Considering that there was a confrontation between appropriately 5,000 protesters and 2,700 police officers and the police needed to disperse the crowd, “it was inevitable that some people were left bleeding,” Wang said.
The eviction of protesters was carried out in a much less cruel way than it would have been other countries, Wang said.
Wang said he “was praised by then-premier Yu Shyi-kun (游錫堃)” of the DPP for his lead of the police force in forcibly removing protesters at a rally against the DPP government after the 2004 presidential election.
DPP Legislator Tuan Yi-kang (段宜康) displayed a picture of a female protester whose hands were tied behind her back by one officer and her hair pulled by another officer, while a third wrapped his arms around her neck.
Another picture provided by Tuan showed that expandable steel batons, which could cause grave injury or death, were also used by the police in the dispersal, which Wang first denied, but then admitted.
Holding a big poster showing several pictures of bleeding protesters, DPP Legislator Chiu Yi-ying (邱議瑩) stood in front of Wang, Lee, and Chen Wei-zen, so they could take a close look at the pictures.
Displaying pictures of protesters whose heads were covered in blood, DPP Legislator Chiu Chih-wei (邱志偉) demanded an answer to why the police attacked the protesters.
Although the pictures displayed by Chiu Chih-wei had been published in newspapers on Monday and Tuesday, Chen Wei-zen said that he “had never seen these pictures before.”
Wang said the NPA did not ask the police to target protesters heads.
“If we had given the order, the outcome today would have been different,” he said.
A footage shot by reporters with the Chinese-language Next Magazine showed a SWAT officer using his baton to hit a protester’s head twice while the man was lying on the ground and people surrounding them were shouting: “No more hitting.”