Three women who claim to have been victimized by police during a protest against a Chinese envoy in November 2008 yesterday vowed to take their lawsuit against police officers to the Supreme Court.
“It’s ridiculous. When judges are ignorant of the law, I don’t know what we can expect. How horrible it is for our laws to become invalid when a guest visits from an ‘upper state,’” a woman going by the nickname Coffeeshop told reporters after the court ruling.
The visitor from an “upper state” was Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Strait (ARATS) Chairman Chen Yunlin (陳雲林), who was making his first appearance on Taiwanese soil for talks with Straits Exchange Foundation Chairman Chiang Pin-kung (江丙坤).
On Nov. 3, 2008, the day of Chen’s arrival, the three women participated in a street skit — timed to coincide with the Chen motorcade, which was on its way to the Grand Hotel — in front of the Taipei Art Museum on Zhongshan N Road to highlight human rights issues in China.
As they walked past the Taiwan Cement Building, one woman, nicknamed Nakao, wore a Tibetan National Flag over her shoulder, while Coffeeshop and another woman nicknamed Hsiao-hsun (小薰) held a Republic of China flag and UN flag in their hands. They were stopped by police.
Failing to make their way through a ring of police led by Yang Chung-te (楊崇德), then the chief of Neihu Police District, the three women were forced into a police car and taken to a police station, where they were detained for the entire afternoon. In the process, Nakao suffered a dislocated finger as police tried to pry the Tibetan flag from her grasp and later underwent surgery to repair the damage.
With the assistance of the Judicial Reform Foundation, the three women sued Yang and six other officers for assault, robbery and offenses against personal liberty.
In the first trial, a district court ruled that police had the -privilege to restrict their freedom of -movement and take away flags because the officers were performing their duties according to the law.
The Taiwan High Court upheld the ruling yesterday.
“It’s been two years. We still haven’t been told by the judges under which law the police were allowed to take us away and keep us in detention,” Coffeeshop said. “We were told it was the Police Duties Enforcement Act [警察職權行使法], but the problem is, while police were enforcing the law, their behavior was in violation of the act.”
The fact that they were walking along the road did not meet any of the conditions stipulated in the act under which police could stop, question and take them away, Coffeeshop said.
“We will continue to appeal. It is our wish that the courts would ensure that a minimum of fairness and justice are delivered. There is no reason people should be treated like this just because they waved a flag representing Tibet,” she said.
That incident was one of four cases of alleged police brutality during Chen’s visit.
In another case, a district court in a first trial acquitted police accused by several women of pushing them against a wall and beating them with batons during a demonstration at the Grand Formosa Regent Hotel.
The plaintiffs have not appealed the case.
In the case of Chen Yu-chin (陳育青), who filed a lawsuit against police who arrested her and sent her to a police station for interrogation after she filmed video footage outside the Grand Hotel, courts ruled in favor of police in a first and second trial.