Prosecutors yesterday filed charges against 119 people — including leading figures Lin Fei-fan (林飛帆), Chen Wei-ting (陳為廷), Dennis Wei (魏揚) and Huang Kuo-chang (黃國昌) — for their roles in the student-led Sunflower movement that occupied the main legislative chamber last year and subsequent rallies opposing what the protesters called the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) government’s opaque handling of a trade-in-services pact with China.
Lin, Chen and Huang were among 22 indicted for breaking into the Legislative Yuan on March 18 last year, which led to an occupation lasting almost 23 days by hundreds of protesters. Wei, who led another group of protesters in an offshoot siege of the Executive Yuan across the road on March 23 last year, was one of 93 people indicted over that incident. Charges were also brought against Hung Chung-yen (洪崇晏) and two others, who on April 11 last year took to the Web to mobilize a large crowd to surround the Zhongzheng First Police Precinct near the legislature, the precinct responsible for maintaining order during the protests.
At least two foreigners were also among the 119 indicted — US political activist and long-term resident Lynn Miles, who is also known by his Chinese name Mei Hsin-yi (梅心怡), and Canadian photojournalist David Smith.
Photo: Chu Pei-hsiung, Taipei Times
According to the indictment, the charges against the 119 included instigating others to commit a crime, trespassing, illegal entry into a building, obstructing an officer from discharge of duties, insulting a public official or office and violating the Assembly and Parade Act (集會遊行法).
In response to the indictment, Huang wrote a Facebook post yesterday, rejecting the grounds on which many students were indicted.
“I did not incite any criminal activities, and I ask the public to bravely resist the Ma administration’s abuse of authority and stand up to save Taiwan’s democracy, which is on the verge of falling off a cliff,” he said.
Photo: Chen Chih-chu, Taipei Times
Chen said the government had perverted the judicial system, adding: “There are 119 people being charged, but what about the police officers who used violence against civilians and [then-premier] Jiang Yi-huah (江宜樺), who ordered the crackdown against protesters? None of them have been charged. The judiciary is biased. It only persecutes civilians and does not go after government officials.”
“We were fighting against the signing of the service trade agreement with China. It was a civil resistance action against the government; the people who participated are not guilty of any crime,” Wei said.
Wei’s mother, Yang Tsui (楊翠), a prominent Taiwanese literature academic, said she suspected the prosecutors’ move was made under duress.
Yang backed Wei and his fellow activists, saying: “Civil disobedience is necessary and legitimate, and what the students admitted doing were not wrongdoings, but necessary actions.”
The indictments come as no surprise to those familiar with the KMT’s political maneuvers, she said, adding that the indicted students would not evade their legal responsibility and that she was thankful for lawyers who volunteered to help.
“There would have been no protests if politics was clean. The students stood up to the government precisely because it is not,” she said.
Student activist Lai Pin-yu (賴品妤), a member of the Black Island National Youth Front, said that participants in the occupation of the legislature’s main chamber knew from the start that they would be required to take legal responsibility for their actions.
However, she also asked if police officers who cleared the protesters should face charges for their actions, and accused President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) administration of being lenient on police brutality.
Meanwhile, Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) spokesperson Cheng Yun-peng (鄭運鵬) acknowledged the protesters’ actions, which he said were carried out in the name of the nation’s democracy and should not be considered criminal.
The DPP called for the judiciary to regard the incident from a historical perspective and refrain from damaging democracy.
Executive Yuan spokesperson Sun Lih-chyun (孫立群) said the Executive Yuan hoped that those charged would be treated with “a tolerant attitude,” but said the charges should not be dropped.
Additional reporting by Hua Meng-ching, Chen Hui-ping, Lii Wen, Alison Hsiao and CNA
CLOSE ENCOUNTERS: Several of the PLA fighter jets that crossed the median line of the Strait came within 68km of Hsinchu, drawing warnings from Taiwan, the ministry said At least 18 Chinese military aircraft yesterday flew into the nation’s air defense identification zone (ADIZ) on the second day of a US delegation’s visit, the Ministry of National Defense said, adding that the military responded by deploying an air defense missile system to monitor their activities. A delegation led by US Undersecretary of State for Economic Growth, Energy and the Environment Keith Krach on Thursday started a three-day visit to Taiwan. The ministry from Thursday started publicizing the actions of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) in Taiwan’s ADIZ on its Web site and Twitter. According to ministry reports, 18 PLA aircraft
TWO CASES: The five allegedly conspired with conglomerates, threatening the nation’s governance and subverting the rules of ethical conduct, a deputy chief prosecutor said Taipei prosecutors yesterday charged three legislators and one former lawmaker with contravening the Anti-Corruption Act (貪污治罪條例) in a case linked to former Pacific Distribution Investment Co (太平洋流通) chairman Lee Heng-lung’s (李恆隆) battle with the Far Eastern Group (遠東集團) over ownership of the Pacific SOGO Department Store (太平洋崇光百貨) chain, while independent Legislator Chao Cheng-yu (趙正宇) was indicted in a separate case involving two funeral services companies and a plot of land in a national park. Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) legislators Chen Chao-ming (陳超明) and Sufin Siluko (廖國棟), Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Su Chen-ching (蘇震清) and former New Power Party legislator
PENGHU INSPECTION: Taiwan cannot let its enemies strut around in its airspace, Tsai said, one day after a Chinese spokesman denied a median line exists in the Taiwan Strait Following China’s assertion on Monday that there is no “median line” in the Taiwan Strait, President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) yesterday pledged to defend the nation’s airspace during a visit to an air force base in Penghu, saying that Taiwan cannot allow others to flex their military muscle in its territorial airspace. Tsai praised the “heroic performance” of the pilots of the Indigenous Defense Fighters who have been intercepting Chinese People’s Liberation Army Air Force planes in recent days. “I have a lot of confidence in you. As soldiers of the Republic of China [ROC], how could we let enemies strut
Swedish Member of Parliament Hampus Hagman is pushing for changing the name of the nation’s trade office in Taipei to signal improved relations with “Asia’s perhaps foremost democracy.” Hagman on Wednesday last week proposed renaming the Swedish Trade and Invest Council to “Sweden’s Office in Taipei,” following similar changes by other nations. The Swedish Trade and Invest Council, part of Business Sweden, is owned by the Swedish government and Swedish industry. Taiwan and Sweden share important values such as respect for democracy, human rights, the rule of law and freedom of speech, Hagman said in the motion, adding that the two nations