DPP asks for leniency toward protesters

LAW OR NONE?:DPP legislators said the Sunflower movement’s actions should be seen as mere civil disobedience, but the justice minister said the law must be upheld

By Rich Chang  /  Staff reporter

Thu, Apr 10, 2014 - Page 1

Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) legislators yesterday asked for leniency toward protesters from Minister of Justice Luo Ying-shay (羅瑩雪), who previously said members of the Sunflower movement who broke the law during action over the government’s handling of the cross-strait service trade agreement will not be treated differently from other lawbreakers.

During a meeting of the legislature’s Judiciary and Organic Laws and Statutes Committee yesterday, DPP Legislator Ker Chien-ming (柯建銘) said the student-led Sunflower movement represents a constitutional issue and the protesters’ actions were based on the principle of civil disobedience.

“The protests are against injustice by the government and the public should be not punished according to the criminal code,” Ker said.

“My position is clear and has never changed — prosecutors must handle the case according to the law,” Luo said in reponse.

Meanwhile, DPP Legislator Yu Mei-nu (尤美女) said Taipei police officers asked National Taiwan University Hospital to provide medical records of people who checked in to the hospital’s emergency unit following the eviction of protesters who broke into the Executive Yuan building on March 24.

Prosecutors and police officers infringed upon protesters’ human rights by examining their personal information, Yu said.

In response, Luo asked: “Is it wrong for law enforcement officers to establish the truth by collecting and studying evidence?”

Separately yesterday, former president Lee Teng-hui (李登輝), in response to media queries about the issue of student protesters facing criminal charges, said his heart aches for the students.

“The students’ actions are for the country and society, they are not doing this for themselves. What criminal offenses have they committed?” Lee said on the sidelines of an appearance at the Taiwan High Court to defend himself in a case in which he is accused of having embezzled state funds.

“The protesters have made a great contribution to the nation’s progress. The government does not listen to the people, so their actions brought Taiwan’s democratization to a new level,” he added.

The student-led protesters, who have occupied the legislative chamber since March 18 in protest against the government’s handling of the cross-strait service trade agreement, announced on Monday night that they would withdraw from the chamber today at 6pm.

The Taipei Police Department said yesterday that it planned to deploy 1,600 police officers to deal with the withdrawal today, as well as to protect the Presidential Office, the Executive Yuan complex and other government agencies in the area.

If there are protesters who refuse to leave the legislative chamber, the police will urge them to leave and they do not rule out carrying them away if they refuse to go, the police authority said.