Fri, Jul 03, 2009 - Page 4 News List

Aborigines attempt to turn themselves in over protest

'ALL CULPRITS' After Panai Luni was fined for violating the Assembly and Parade Act earlier this week, dozens involved in the same March protest turned themselves in

By Loa Iok-sin  /  STAFF REPORTER

Dozens of Amis Aborigines, residents of the Sanying (三鶯) Aboriginal Community in Taipei County and Kanjin (崁津) and Saowac Aboriginal Communities in Taoyuan County showed up outside the Zhongshan Police Precinct in Taipei yesterday to turn themselves in for taking part in an illegal demonstration in March.

Residents of the three communities have staged several demonstrations outside Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) headquarters in Taipei, asking to speak to Taoyuan County Commissioner Eric Chu (朱立倫) — one of the eight KMT vice chairmen — after the Saowac Aboriginal Community was torn down by the Taoyuan County Government.

All three communities were established decades ago by Amis Aborigines from Taitung and Hualien counties after they came to work as construction workers or miners and could not afford housing in the city.

Since the houses were built without permission and because they are apparently situated in “flood zones,” the communities were subject to demolition at any time.

Sanying and Saowac have been torn down several times before, but each time they were rebuilt, while a date for the demolition of Kanjin has yet to be announced.

In March, after failing to get a response from Chu, residents of the three communities tried to force their way into KMT headquarters and clashed with police.

Earlier this week, Panai Luni, one of the leaders of the demonstration, received a ticket for a violation of the Assembly and Parade Act (集會遊行法) and was ordered to pay a fine of NT$30,000.

“This is double repression by the state — it represses our right of residency and our right of free speech,” Panai said.

Dozens of people who took part in the demonstration in March gathered outside Zhongshan Police Precinct Headquarters to turn themselves in as a show of support for Panai.

“If anyone is to be punished for taking part in the demonstration, we were all involved, we’re all ‘culprits,’ and we should all take responsibility together,” said Ko Yi-min (柯逸民), convener of Raging Citizens Act Now.

Everyone present agreed.

“I want to turn myself in. Take me,” the crowd shouted in unison as they marched about 20m from their assembly point to the front door of the precinct headquarters.

Movie director Hou Hsiao-hsien (侯孝賢) was among the crowd.

“I’m the culprit behind all the illegal demonstrations against government repression and police abuse of power,” Hou said. “I’m here to surrender myself too.”

He then handed over a list of 50 people who said they would voluntarily surrender to the police. The demonstration ended peacefully after police accepted the list.

Deputy Precinct Chief Hsu Shao-tsong (徐少聰) later told reporters that police had decided to hold Panai responsible because she was the person holding the microphone and telling the crowd to push against police at the demonstration in March.

“Our job is to find out who led the demonstration and hold that person responsible,” he said.

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