Taipei City’s Department of Police yesterday forcefully evicted a small group of sit-in protesters from Ketagalan Boulevard. The protesters later accused the police of abusing their authority, after violent altercations ensued when protesters attempted to re-occupy the sit-in site.
The sit-in, organized by several Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) city councilors late last month, was protesting against President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) policy on US beef imports and increases in fuel and electricity prices.
The Taipei Police Department’s Zhongzheng First Precinct, led by Fang Yang-ning (方仰寧), dispersed the crowd shortly after midnight yesterday and forced protesters to leave.
When the demonstrators tried to return to the sit-in site, clashes with police broke out as they attempted to force their way through a blockade, with some protesters shouting: “Don’t push me! Don’t grab my hand!”
DPP Taipei City Councilor Tung Chung-yen (童仲彥) later criticized the police, saying they had abused their authority in using violence to evict the protesters, and urged the Taipei City Government to respect the people’s right to hold rallies.
“We regret the police’s forceful eviction of our 13-day non-violent sit-in on Ketagalan Boulevard. However, we believe the sit-in has forced Ma to listen to the people’s voice,” he said.
The police department dismissed Tung’s accusations, and said the demonstrators were evicted because the sit-in was organized without a permit.
Precinct deputy director Chiu Yao-hui (邱曜輝) said the sit-in had affected local traffic and public safety because protesters’ placards and props had been left on the sidewalks and because protesters were continually crossing the road.
Organizers of the sit-in, including Tung, DPP Greater Kaohsiung City Councilor Chen Hsin-yu (陳信瑜) and DPP Greater Tainan City Councilor Wang Ding-yu (王定宇), had planned to hold their demonstration until Ma’s inauguration next Sunday.
The areas adjacent to the Presidential Office will be off-limits to the public during the inauguration.
The Presidential Office said the inauguration will be simple and cost-conscious. Ma will be sworn in and make his speech on the morning of May 20 at the Presidential Office, after which he will hold an international press conference in the afternoon.
The DPP and the Taiwan Solidarity Union have already planned an anti-Ma march and rally in Taipei next Saturday and Sunday, which they hope will end directly in front of the Presidential Office.