Sat, Jan 30, 2010 - Page 3 News List

Activist criticizes police for fining him for 'walking'

TAKING A STROLLTsay Ting-kuei of the Taiwan Referendum Alliance said police fined him for simply 'walking around' outside the Presidential Office

By Loa Iok-sin  /  STAFF REPORTER

Taiwan Referendum Alliance convener Tsay Ting-kuei, left, and his supporters stand outside Zhongzheng First Precinct police station in Taipei on Wednesday with donations to help pay fines he received for allegedly violating the Assembly and Parade Act.

PHOTO: LO PEI-DER, TAIPEI TIMES

Taiwan Referendum Alliance convener Tsay Ting-kuei (蔡丁貴) yesterday criticized the police for fining him for violating the Assembly and Parade Act (集會遊行法) when he walked around outside the Presidential Office with a donation box and some supporters on Wednesday.

Tsay went to Zhongzheng First Precinct police station on Wednesday to pay the fines he had previously received for violating the Act. Tsay had received tickets totaling more than NT$800,000 because he has been conducting a sit-in demonstration against the Assembly and Parade Act outside the Legislative Yuan since October 2008.

Because Tsay found that he did not have enough money to pay the fines, he decided to walk around with a donation box to raise money.

Tsay and his supporters were stopped by the police when they approached the side gate of the Presidential Office. They refused to stop and continued to walk around. They received a warning from the police, who said that Tsay and his supporters were in violation of the Assembly and Parade Act and they were asked to “disband.”

“We were only a few people walking on the street trying to raise money, it was neither an assembly nor a parade,” Tsay told the Taipei Times.

“It’s my freedom to wear whatever I want and take whatever I want when I walk on the street — the police have violated my freedom,” he said.

He said while there were other people with him, police officers only surrounded him.

“Is there a law that says that Tsay Ting-kuei cannot walk around the Presidential Office?” he asked. “They could arrest me if I had tried to walk into the Presidential Office, but I was merely walking on the sidewalk outside. The police abused their power.”

Taiwan Association for Human Rights secretary-general Tsai Chi-hsun (蔡季勳) agreed with Tsay.

Tsai said what had happened to Tsay showed that the Assembly and Parade Act is ridiculous and unnecessary.

“What Tsay Ting-kuei did would not be considered a violation of the Assembly and Parade Act if he did it elsewhere. What he did was declared illegal because the Presidential Office is a ‘sensitive’ place,” Tsai said. “This shows that the Act gives police too much power to decide what constitutes a violation of the law.”

On the other hand, police said the way officers acted was legal and justified.

“[Tsay and his supporters] walked in group — though there was quite a distance between them — and they held placards with slogans. Of course it was a demonstration,” said Yang Chih-chieh (楊志傑), the commander at the scene on Wednesday. “We may allow them to walk around elsewhere, but the area surrounding the Presidential Office is a restricted zone, so we had to stop them.”

Zhongzheng First Police Precinct Chief Inspector Jason Yu (于增祥) said he understood why many people do not like the Assembly and Parade Act.

“Whether it’s a good law or a bad law, as long as it’s still there we have to enforce it,” he said.

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