Minister of the Interior Liao Liou-yi (廖了以) yesterday apologized to Formosa TV reporter Tsai Meng-yu (蔡孟育), who was injured by riot police on Thursday night.
A large crowd gathered late on Thursday in front of the Taipei Fine Arts Museum, not far from Grand Hotel where China's Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Strait Chairman Chen Yunlin (陳雲林) was staying. The protesters were planning to march to the hotel but were stopped by police barricades in front of the museum.
Tsai, who was at work on the scene, was beaten by a riot officer with a baton during a police attempt to push back the crowd. He suffered a broken nose and was wounded in the right eye.
Commenting on the incident later that night, National Police Agency Director-General Wang Cho-chiun (王卓鈞) said Tsai might have been close to the police line when officers launched an advance.
“I was right in the press area,” he told Liao yesterday. “Even if I were not a reporter, but one of the protesters, the police should not have beaten anyone like this.”
Liao then apologized to Tsai.
“As you suffer from the pain, I feel the pain deep in my heart,” Liao told Tsai.
“This accident should be a lesson for police officers,” Liao said. “We will examine what went wrong and come up with better standard procedures for police to deal with similar situations in future.”
In related news, Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Chairperson Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) said yesterday that the protest organized by the party on Thursday afternoon was a victory for Taiwanese because it underscored the importance of dealing with the issue of sovereignty based on public opinion.
From the day Chen arrived, he was greeted by protests wherever he went as the DPP and independence supporters voiced their concern that President Ma Ying-jeou's (馬英九) push for cross-strait reconciliation would be made at the expense of national sovereignty and interests.
After the protest turned bloody on Thursday as police clashed with the crowd, the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) government and the DPP blamed each other for the violence.
While the government said the DPP, as the event organizer, should assume responsibility for the conflict, Tsai Ing-wen said the government should be held responsible for using excessive force and violating human rights in its efforts to protect Chen and prevent him from seeing the protests.
Thursday's protest had multiple meanings, she said.
“From the political perspective, it showed China that it cannot handle cross-strait relations by dealing just with Ma and the KMT government,” she told a press conference at DPP headquarters yesterday. “It requires public opinion and support.”
As far as sovereignty is concerned, the protest forced Ma to repeat before his meeting with Chen his promise that Taiwan's future would be determined by the nation's 23 million people, Tsai Ing-wen said.
She added that the demonstration sent a clear message to the international community that many Taiwanese did not welcome Chen's visit and have strong doubts about the government's pro-China tilt.
The protest also highlighted the fact that human rights are inseparable from the sovereignty issue, she said.
“If Ma can restrict the people's right to free speech and suppress dissent during Chen's visit, how can we trust him to let the 23 million Taiwanese decide their own fate when China attempts to take away our sovereignty?” she asked.
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