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.
Tsai called on the police to conduct an impartial investigation of the incident and asked the public to stay calm so that it would not cause further civic unrest.
At a separate setting yesterday, Ma said that “[those] who initiated the protest should take full responsibility [for the incident],” referring to the DPP.
“The Parade and Assembly Act [集會遊行法] stipulates clearly that organizers of demonstrations should be held responsible for participants’ behavior,” Ma said when approached by reporters for a comment on the clash.
Premier Wu Den-yih (吳敦義) also said that those who organized the protest should take responsibility.
Executive Yuan Spokesman Su Jun-pin (蘇俊賓) quoted Wu as saying at the weekly Cabinet meeting that the Taichung City Government, the National Police Agency and the Ministry of the Interior had done an “excellent job” in ensuring the safety of the Chinese delegation.
Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) caucus secretary-general Lu Hsueh-chang (呂學樟) also condemned the DPP over the incident.
KMT spokesman Lee Chien-jung (李建榮) said the incident showed that the DPP had broken its promise to keep the demonstrations peaceful.
ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY SHIH HSIU-CHUAN AND FLORA WANG
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