Fri, Nov 14, 2008 - Page 4 News List

Wild Strawberries call for probes

YOUTH GONE WILD The demonstrators asked the government which article authorizes the police to stop people from waving Taiwan’s flag, but not China’s flag

By Flora Wang

Students yesterday perform a skit during a sit-in protest at the National Taiwan Democracy Memorial Hall, demanding that the government amend the Assembly and Parade Law.

PHOTO: CNA

The student demonstrators of the Wild Strawberry Student Movement yesterday urged the government to initiate investigations and explain to the public the alleged use of excessive force by police against protesters during the visit of a top Chinese envoy last week.

In an on-line statement on the students’ Web blog (action1106.blogspot.com) yesterday, the students urged the government to explain to the public specifically which law authorized the police to prevent people from waving Taiwan’s national flag, but allowed people to hold China’s national flag during demonstrations for and against the visit by Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Strait Chairman Chen Yunlin (陳雲林) last week.

The students also urged the government to clarify to the public whether all police officers involved in the security measures last week carried out their duties in accordance with normal administrative procedures and urged the authorities to reflect on whether their measures had been excessive.

The students have been staging silent sit-ins nationwide, protesting what they call excessive police force during Chen’s five-day stay.

They are demanding an apology from President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) and Premier Liu Chao-shiuan (劉兆玄) and the resignation of National Police Agency Director-General Wang Cho-chun (王卓鈞) and National Security Bureau Director-General Tsai Chao-ming (蔡朝明).

Also on the students’ agenda is an immediate amendment to the Assembly and Parade Law (集會遊行法), which currently obliges event organizers to gain police approval before holding rallies.

On their Web blog, the students have included numerous hyperlinks to video clips showing police security measures last week, including one that showed a plainclothes police officer telling a person videotaping the protest at Zhongshan Bridge to immediately leave “or I will ask a member of the Special Weapons And Tactics [SWAT] team to arrest you.”

“We can see that the law enforcement authorities assigned police officers a mission to complete and that police officers would rather excessively limit or even violate people’s basic human rights in a bid to save their own jobs,” the student protesters’ statement said, adding that the police had violated people’s constitutional rights by resorting to force against those who did not pose an obvious and immediate threat to Chen.

The students also shrugged off Ma’s comments on Wednesday that excessive use of police force had only occurred in isolated cases.

“These illegal and unconstitutional incidents and violations of human rights took place because the government expanded the scale of law enforcement during Chen’s stay in Taiwan,” student movement spokesman Lee Li-wei (李立偉) said.

Meanwhile, Lee called on teachers and students who supported the movement to gather and broaden the scale of the sit-in at Liberty Square, outside the Taiwan Democracy Memorial Hall tomorrow.

Lee said about 50 students from Hong Kong Polytechnic University would launch a sit-in at their school in support of the movement today.

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