After 12 days of “tree-sitting” by environmentalist Pan Han-chiang (潘翰疆) to protect trees at New Taipei City’s (新北市) Chiang-Tsui Junior High School, Pan was yesterday forcibly removed from the tree, while two other activists were taken into custody.
Pan climbed up a tree on March 28 in a bid to protect 32 trees scheduled for removal because of a municipal project to build a swimming pool and underground parking lot on the campus. Tree protection volunteers and Green Party Taiwan members took turns to support him.
The city government rejected the volunteers’ suggestion of reducing the number of trees to be removed and saving a large proportion of the construction budget by reducing what they said was unnecessary construction work.
After 268 hours in the tree, Pan was removed by police officers at about 11am yesterday and sent to hospital.
“I will use all my strength and will to the last minute to protect the ‘sea of trees’ and the community’s old memories with the goal of keeping the trees where they are now and stopping the inappropriate construction work,” Pan said last week.
Video clips showed that before the police reached Pan with an aerial ladder, two construction workers had climbed onto the tree and shaken the higher branches that Pan climbed onto, causing the volunteers to protest against actions that may have put Pan in danger.
Green Party Taiwan members Wang Chung-ming (王鐘銘) and Pan Han-shen (潘翰聲) were taken away by the police for questioning, because they were said to be violating the Assembly and Parade Act (集會遊行法).
Other volunteers said they were only holding signs bearing protest messages.