Fri, Sep 18, 2015 - Page 1 News List

Anti-curriculum students summoned to court for charges

By Chien Hui-ju, Huang Shin-po and Jonathan Chin  /  Staff reporters, with staff writer

Anti-curriculum changes student activist Chen Po-yu, displays a court summons from the Taipei District Prosecutors’ Office on Wednesday in Yilan County.

Photo: Chien Hui-ju, Taipei Times

Anti-curriculum changes student activist Chen Po-yu (陳柏瑜) yesterday said he and other activists have received court summons from the Taipei District Prosecutors’ Office to answer criminal charges on Thursday next week for acts of protest, even though the Ministry of Education had pledged to drop the charges.

Chen, a vocational high-school student from Yilan County, participated in the break-in and occupation of the Ministry of Education’s complex on July 23 to protest against the ministry’s new textbook curriculum guidelines, which they say are China-centric and lack objectivity.

Thirty-three people, including activists and three reporters, were arrested and charged with criminal trespassing on a private residence, obstruction and vandalism.

The ministry later promised to drop the charges as part of its negotiations with anti-curriculum changes activists, a promise that Chen yesterday said the summons has cast into doubt.

“Were the charges not dropped? Why are they not doing what they promised?” he asked, adding that he was “disappointed” by the ministry’s “flip-flopping.”

Chen said the charges were nonsensical, adding that the ministry’s complex is not a “private residence,” that the protesters did not obstruct the police or offer resistance in any way and no property was damaged during their occupation.

The anti-curriculum activists’ lawyer, Wellington Koo (顧立雄), said he and his team would comment on the specifics of the charges after the prosecutors had clarified them in court, because the tersely worded court document only cited “criminal obstruction and other charges.”

Koo added that he had worried about the possibility of government deception when the ministry announced it would drop charges, and that those worries now appear justified.

Humanist Education Foundation executive director and member of the Anti-Curriculum Changes Alliance Joanna Feng (馮喬蘭) called on the ministry to make good on its claim that it was acting in the students’ best interests when it pledged to drop the charges, adding that it is too late for the ministry to “pretend it is a bystander.”

In response, Deputy Minister of Education Lin Teng-chiao (林騰蛟) said that the ministry has dropped all civil charges against the activists, but the Taipei Prosecutors’ Office is responsible for prosecuting criminal charges, such as obstruction.

The Taipei District Prosecutors’ Office declined comment.

Additional reporting by Rachel Lin

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