Sun, Jul 18, 2004 - Page 3 News List

Protest stopped, more promised

ABORIGINALS Leaders won't say when they'll take to the streets again, but contend they won't need a permit because Ketagalan Boulevard is Aboriginal land

By Caroline Hong  /  STAFF REPORTER

A protest against recent comments by Vice President Annette Lu, led by independent Legislator May Chin is broken up yesterday because permission for the protest had not been obtained in advance.

PHOTO: LUO PEI-TEH, TAIPEI TIMES

Aboriginal Legislator May Chin (高金素梅) and People's First Party (PFP) Legislator Tsai Chung-han (蔡中涵) said that President Chen Shui-bian's (陳水扁) speech at the Ketagalan Institute yesterday morning was insincere and swore to resume their hunger strike on Ketagalan Boulevard if Chen and Vice President Annette Lu (呂秀蓮) do not hold a press conference to apologize for remarks that Lu made last week about Aboriginal people.

"You said that you wanted to establish nation-to-nation relations with Aboriginal people. But now, the words of your vice president negate your promise. You say that you will give Aboriginal affairs special consideration in the new constitution. Do you really think we will believe you?" Chin said, referring to Chen's previous promises to Aboriginal people to help them get equitable treatment from all ethnic groups.

Taiwan's Aborigines can only be satisfied by a public apology by Chen and Lu at a press conference, Tsai said.

"How can an official apology be so difficult? Chen should come and face us directly though political channels, instead of saying a sentence or two in one place or another," he said.

The two legislators made their remarks at a press conference at which they discussed the future of their protests, after police halted an unauthorized protest at the Presidential Office at noon yesterday.

The two began their hunger strike at 10am Friday morning, leading supporters in a sit-down protest on Ketagalan Boulevard that lasted throughout the night. The hunger strike was conducted by the two legislators to protest Lu's saying that Aboriginal people were not the first inhabitants of Taiwan and that victims of Tropical Storm Mindulle should be shipped to Central America because of overdevelopment in areas affected by the storm.

The protest came to an end when police forcibly removed protesters from their camp in front of the Presidential Office after giving protesters three warnings to leave.

"If police touch me, I will commit suicide," Chin yelled as she was removed yesterday.

After negotiations with police, Chin left the scene of her own accord and was taken to a local hospital in a bus.

At the press conference, the legislators threatened to stage another protest on Ketagalan Boulevard if Chen and Lu do not offer an official apology, and said they expected an answer quickly because Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平) had promised them that he would convey their message to the president.

"Wang called us twice yesterday and once today, asking us about our progress. He promised to talk to the president about us," Tsai said.

When asked whether or not they would seek authorization for future protests, the legislators said they would not, because the area in front of the presidential office is the Aboriginal peoples' native land.

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