Police crack down on Miaoli protesters

‘CAUGHT RED-HANDED’::Police reportedly beat peaceful demonstrators with batons, and handcuffed and arrested them in the second such incident in the past three days

By Loa Iok-sin  /  Staff reporter

Tue, Apr 30, 2013 - Page 1

More than 20 protesters — including local residents and 14 student supporters — who staged a peaceful sit-in demonstration against a wind turbine project in Yuanli Township (苑裡), Miaoli County, were handcuffed and taken away by police yesterday.

“I didn’t do anything wrong, why should I go with you?” a protester surnamed Lin (林) said as she was dragged away from the wind turbine construction site by the police.

Although the woman — as well as the other protesters — was not involved in any act of violence and did not resist when dragged away by the police, she was allegedly pushed to the ground by several police officers with their knees and had both her arms twisted around behind her back before being handcuffed.

Police ignored her complaints that her arms hurt and she could hardly breathe after being pushed to the ground, saying only: “Nothing will happen to you if you don’t move.”

Lin’s case was not an isolated incident — all the other protesters who refused to leave the site were handcuffed and several were beaten with batons.

About 20 people were arrested and were transferred to Miaoli District Prosecutors’ Office. At press time, an injunction had been issued against 14 of the protesters.

Yesterday’s incident was the second in which police employed handcuffs and batons against peaceful protesters, after a similar incident at the turbine construction site on Saturday.

On Saturday, when one of the protesters who escaped arrest showed up at the Tongsiao Police Precinct where the arrested protesters were detained, an amateur video showed an unidentified senior officer yelling at him, telling him to go away, saying: “This is my place, not yours” and “go ahead and file a complaint against me.”

Usually in Miaoli, peaceful protesters are only taken into police vehicles nearby and released after the protest is over, and only those who are involved in violent acts, such as attacking officers or breaking the police line, are referred to the judiciary.

Facing criticism from the public, the Tongsiao Police Precinct defended its actions, saying that the protesters were handcuffed because they were “caught red-handed.”

Yuanli residents said that although they support green energy in principle, they were protesting against the InfraVest GmbH’s wind turbine project out of concern it might affect their quality of life, because some turbines are only 250m from their homes.