Wed, Apr 07, 2004 - Page 2 News List

`Hunger-strikers' linked to parties

SIT-IN Two of the group made brief visits to doctors as claims surfaced that the 'neutral' protesters actually had party connections

By Jewel Huang  /  STAFF REPORTER

University students hold up pictures of students taking part in a sit-in at the Chiang Kai-shek Memorial to show the protesters' political affiliation. The students were taking part in a press conference at the Legislative Yuan yesterday.

PHOTO:CHIANG YING-YING, TAIPEI TIMES

The student protesters staging a "hunger strike" at the Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall yesterday were alleged by fellow students to have worked with the pan-blue camp even as they claimed to be politically neutral.

The university students, numbering no more than 15 at a time, have been staging a sit-in and "hunger strike" since last Friday in an appeal to the government to establish a "truth task force" to investigate the shooting of President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) and Vice President Annette Lu (呂秀蓮).

Students are taking turns going without food for 12 hours, labeling the action a "hunger strike."

Tien Wei-li (田偉力), a student at Feng Chia University in Taichung, fainted yesterday morning after claiming to have been on a 88-hour fast.

He was taken to the National Taiwan University Hospital for treatment before being released.

"I hope President Chen can come to talk to us," a teary Tien said at the hospital, adding that he did not regret joining the sit-in.

Another hunger-striking student surnamed Chu took himself to the hospital by taxi after he began to feel dizzy.

Doctors at the hospital said the condition of both students was stable and that they could be immediately discharged.

Tien and Chu then returned to the scene of the protest yesterday afternoon and continued their "hunger strike."

Chen Cheng-feng (陳政峰), one of eight organizers of the student movement and a history major at National Taiwan University (NTU), urged the president to show up and talk sincerely with the group of students.

"The students can't go on forever. I hope President Chen can show up promptly and respond to our appeal," he said.

Meanwhile, a Chinese major at NTU, Lin Yu-lun (林于倫), and several other students produced photographs and other materials collected from the Internet yesterday, alleging that leaders of the "hunger strike" had political connections and that some of them worked on the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT)-People First Party (PFP) alliance's campaign.

Lin displayed photographs showing what he said were some of the hunger-striking students standing with KMT Chairman Lien Chan (連戰) at a KMT awards ceremony and with PFP Chairman James Soong (宋楚瑜) at a celebration of his party's anniversary.

"Chen [Cheng-feng] in fact had close connections to the KMT but kept saying he did not belong to any party," Lin said.

"These students are not as neutral as they claimed. I urge them to stop saying they represent the voice of university students and urge them not to be the tools of political parties," he said.

"We oppose political interference with student movements and using the image of students in furthering political goals," Lin said. "We cannot accept it."

Lin said he agreed that everyone had the right to express an opinion, but he questioned why this group of students had covered up their political connections, claiming instead that they were all neutral.

"We hope the controversy [over the election result] can be solved through legal channels rather than irrational protests," he added.

Late in the day, Presidential Office spokesman James Huang (黃志芳) said the president would respond to the students' requests at the appropriate time.

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