The Central Taiwan Antinuclear Action Alliance is set to hold an antinuclear demonstration in Greater Taichung on Dec. 7. While applying for the demonstration route, police required that the alliance provide copies of every picketer’s national ID, making demonstrators feel like they were being blacklisted. The alliance has voiced its opposition and alleges that police are reverting to tactics from the White Terror era to deter them from demonstrating.
The Inspection Section of the Greater Taichung Police Department’s 6th Precinct says that the unit’s demand that picketing applicants provide copies of their national IDs is in accordance with the Assembly and Parade Act, and is only used by police for review purposes, adding that in accordance with the Personal Information Protection Act the information is kept confidential and will not be leaked.
Tsai Chih-hao, the alliance’s Greater Taichung convener, says that on the eve of the Chinese Nationalist Party’s (KMT) national congress in Greater Taichung two weeks ago, the police, under a premise of “concern,” visited his office several times to check how many people would be attending the event to protest against President Ma Ying-jeou, what sort of contact various organizations had with each other, and the goings-on of important figures. This is tantamount to those in power using the police system to collect intelligence, and spy on and control people’s movements, making some private organizations feel unsafe, Tsai says.
Tsai says that when he complied with the law in applying to the police for the alliance to hold an antinuclear demonstration on Dec. 7, the police requested that picketers from the alliance provide personal data and include copies of their IDs, something he had never come across before. He is therefore dubious about police motives for requiring copies of national IDs. The police responded by saying that they merely want to check whether any applicants are wanted criminals, or underage and make sure they are demonstrating of their own volition.
Tsai says that if the police want to check for wanted criminals all they have to do is check the ID numbers that are already included on the event roster, and asks why they require copies of everyone’s national IDs only in Greater Taichung, while none of the other counties and cities in Taiwan have such requirements. Could it be that Greater Taichung is bringing back martial law?
With regard to how police have acted, legal experts say that the Assembly and Parade Act only stipulates that applicants must provide the name, sex, occupation, date of birth, national ID number, and home address and telephone number. The “procedural regulations for police agencies processing citizens’ applications for assemblies and parades” also do not require that picketers provide copies of national IDs, so experts say that police agencies must avoid arbitrarily interpreting the law.
(Liberty Times, Translated by Kyle Jeffcoat)