Fri, Dec 25, 2009 - Page 3 News List

CROSS STRAIT TALKS: Officer’s injury met with calls for peaceful protests

REPERCUSSIONS Both the pan-blue and the pan-green camps yesterday urged protesters and police to exercise restraint and try to avoid violence during demonstrations

By Jenny W. Hsu and Loa Iok-sin  /  STAFF REPORTERS, IN NANTOU AND TAIPEI

A police officer who was injured when he was allegedly pushed from a truck by protesters on Wednesday night was in satisfactory condition yesterday, but needed further hospital care, the Taichung City Police Bureau said.

Six protesters from the pro-­independence “908 Taiwan Republic” campaign were held overnight after being detained and questioned on suspicion of public endangerment, obstruction of justice and assault, bureau deputy chief Yu Hui-mao (余輝茂) said.

All six have been released, with two on bail.

Chen Chu-hsiang (陳諸想), a captain from the Taichung City Second Precinct, was allegedly pushed from a protest truck as he tried to stop the demonstrators setting off fireworks in the direction of the hotels where delegations from Taiwan and China were meeting for the latest round of cross-strait talks.

While the protesters said Chen fell of his own accord, the police said they had video footage that showed the police captain being pushed by a man dressed in a green 908 Taiwan Republic campaign shirt.

TV footage of the incident seemed to show the officer being pushed from the truck.

Chen, who was still under observation last night, sustained lacerations to his face and minor head injuries.

One of the six protesters who had been detained, Liu Ching-cheng (劉慶澄) — who was reportedly responsible for pushing Chen — told reporters he would apologize if he did anything wrong, although he did not believe he had.

The incident marked the most serious injury and the first arrests since the cross-strait talks began on Monday.

A string of top government officials, including President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九), Taichung Mayor Jason Hu (胡志強) and Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Secretary-General Su Jia-chyuan (蘇嘉全), expressed concern over Chen’s injuries.

The pan-blue as well as the pan-green camps yesterday urged protesters and police to exercise restraint and avoid violence during demonstrations.

The DPP issued a statement saying the incident should not blur the focus of the protests, which it said was to send a message that the government should refrain from making underhanded deals with Beijing by overriding the people’s right to choose.

Minister of the Interior Jiang Yi-huah (江宜樺) urged demonstrators to be considerate of other people’s safety and only use peaceful means when exercising their freedom of expression.

“Shooting fireworks at a guest is not how you should treat them,” ­Jiang said at the legislature. “Please refrain from crossing the line by using violent means or threatening other people’s safety.”

Jiang also called on the police to strictly follow the guideline of “protecting people’s legal rights while dealing with violators.”

DPP Chairperson Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) said that while the party was against using violence, it would provide legal assistance to members of the 908 Taiwan Republic campaign arrested by the police.

“Our party officials yesterday [Wednesday] asked civic groups taking part in protests to refrain from physical conflict and the use of violence, to ensure the protests remain peaceful,” Tsai said at a news conference at DPP headquarters.

“While most of the groups kept their actions peaceful — which we appreciate — it was unfortunate that members of the 908 Taiwan Republic campaign engaged in a violent act, which is something we do not agree with,” she said.

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