Sun, Oct 22, 2006 - Page 3 News List

Police question Shih over illegal protests

ORGANIZER The former DPP chairman said he was willing to take responsibility for the anti-President Chen Shui-bian protest on the Double Ten national holiday

By Rich Chang  /  STAFF REPORTER

Former Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) chairman Shih Ming-teh (施明德) and seven other people were interviewed by Taipei police yesterday on suspicion of holding an illegal protest on Double Ten National Day.

Shih, the organizer of the campaign to oust President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁), staged a protest against the president on National Day without a permit from the Taipei City Government, which could lead to charges of violating the Assembly and Parade Law (集會遊行法).

The controversial law -- a relic from Taiwan's authoritarian era -- has been challenged by numerous social groups because of its ambiguous language and the broad powers it gives the government to bring charges against protesters.

"As the head of the anti-Chen campaign, I should shoulder legal and political responsibility for the protest," Shih told the press after he completed a police interview at the anti-Chen campaign office yesterday afternoon.

"It was not a big deal for me. People should look back at my career," added Shih, referring to more than 20 years of imprisonment he suffered for his dissidence against the authoritarian Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) government.

He said the Assembly and Parade Law is unethical and that the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) government has used it as a tool to suppress, rather than protect, the public's liberties.

Police have identified 19 individuals as having organized the illegal protest.

Yesterday, authorities interviewed eight people including Shih, Chang Fu-chung (張富忠), Jerry Fan (范可欽), Chien Hsi-chieh and other anti-Chen campaign organizers.

Police planned to complete interviews of all 19 individuals this week.

The charges they may bring are related to the presence of thousands of protesters at a rally outside Taipei Railway Station last Tuesday afternoon, as well as demonstrations on Zhongxiao W Road. Protesters were later dispersed by the Taipei City Police Department in the early hours of last Wednesday.

Under Shih's direction, the rally turned into a sit-in on the road around 9pm on Tuesday night.

The Ministry of Justice has said that the ministry instructed prosecutors to conclude their investigations into the matter as soon as possible, adding that prosecutors would seek heavy sentences for anyone indicted for causing civic disturbances and numerous violent incidents.

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