Several groups yesterday said a rally planned for Sunday against President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) and the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) during the party’s 19th congress in Greater Taichung will be held even though a “protest zone” will not be established.
The groups, including the National Alliance for Workers of Closed Factories (NAWCF), has collected more than 5,000 shoes for demonstrators to throw during the protest outside the Taichung Stadium in Wuci District (梧棲). More shoe-collections will be held in Taoyuan, Hsinchu and Greater Taichung ahead of the protest.
“These shoes are not thrown to hurt anyone. Throwing shoes is a way to express anger and discontent with the authorities. Besides, the KMT will block the roads around the stadium on Sunday, and there is no way we can throw shoes at any government officials. It is not going to be a violent protest,” NAWCF member Wu Yung-yi (吳永毅) said outside the KMT’s headquarters in Taipei as representatives from the groups defended the rally.
Holding signs that read “Vote with your shoes. Take back your rights!” the groups slammed the KMT for obtaining permission to use eight major roads around the stadium and blocking the venue off from protestors.
Despite the Taichung City Police Department’s decision not to set up a protest zone on Sunday, Wu said the rally will proceed regardless of the police department’s plans.
“Blocking the streets around the venue is a tactic that deprives the people of the rights to rally. The party is forcing us to confront the police when holding the rally,” he said.
The KMT had discussed the possibility of setting up an area across the street from the stadium, which could hold several thousand people, for protests and petitioners. However, the police ruled out the idea, saying protesters would not necessarily confine their demonstrations to the zone.
The police said nets to catch shoes or other objects thrown by demonstrators will be prepared, but may not be used.
Ma, who doubles as KMT chairman, has promised to ensure the safety and dignity of party delegates during the congress in response to concerns voiced by some KMT Central Standing Committee (CSC) members over possible shoe-throwing protests.
He also promised to respect the public’s rights to rally.