Accusing the Miaoli County Government of using a technicality to block a rally scheduled for Friday to protest the forced demolition of houses in Dapu Borough (大埔), young activists yesterday vowed to hold the event regardless of the consequences.
Nearly a month after the county government’s forcible demolition of houses in Dapu Borough, rights activists are planning to hold demonstrations in both Miaoli and Taipei because the local and central governments have failed to apologize for the demolitions.
However, the Miaoli City Government — which administers Miaoli City, the seat of the county government — turned down an application from activists to hold a demonstration on Friday evening in front of its offices, saying that the protest might “block the way for people going in and out of the county government’s offices on official business,” despite the demonstration being scheduled to begin at 6pm, outside of office hours.
Following the rejection of the demonstration application, the Miaoli Police Precinct approved an application for a parade. However, it limited its time to between 2pm and 5pm, and barred the parade from making a stop in front of the county government’s offices.
According to the Assembly and Parade Act (集會遊行法), the organizer of a public assembly or parade must apply for both a permit to use public spaces from the local government and a permit for holding an assembly or a parade from the local police authority.
“The [Miaoli] city government turned down our application to hold a rally from 6pm to 9:30pm, saying that we may disturb official business, yet, the police authority is restricting our event to 2pm to 5pm, which are office hours, effectively blocking our evening rally,” the Youth Alliance for Miaoli, one of the organizers of the event, said on its Facebook event page.
“Apparently, so-called ‘disturbing of official business’ is merely an excuse,” it added.
The group also panned Miaoli County Commissioner Liu Cheng-hung (劉政鴻), saying he was violating people’s basic right to assembly, and vowed to proceed with the rally on Friday regardless of any possible consequences.
“We will go on with our rally that evening [Friday] and we will set up our stage right next to police barricades and their human wall,” the group said.
A member of the group, Chen Wei-ting (陳為廷), who lives near the county hall, said that he has seen different political and non-political rallies, concerts and even Christmas events being held in front of the building, which is why he is not convinced by the reasons that the county and city governments gave for turning down the assembly application.