The Taiwan Solidarity Union (TSU) has accused the Taipei City Government’s police department of favoring the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) following the rejection of its application for a permit to use a number of roads in the capital for 80 consecutive days.
“Last year, after the KMT decided to change the venue for its 19th party congress [from the National Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall in Taipei] to [the Chungshan Building on] Yangmingshan in a desperate attempt to avoid being dogged by protests, the police department granted it the right to use all the roads leading to the mountain for 80 consecutive days,” TSU Secretary-General Lin Chih-chia (林志嘉) said on Sunday.
The KMT relocated the meeting to the Taichung Stadium in Greater Taichung’s Wuchi District (梧棲) on Nov. 10 last year, but it still drew hundreds of angry protesters.
“How come the police department was willing to ‘seal off’ a mountain for the KMT for 80 days, but refuses to give the TSU the rights to use some roads not even for one day?” Lin asked.
Lin was referring to his party’s bid to secure the rights to use Shifu Road, Renai Road, Ketagalan Boulevard, Gongyuan Road, Changde Street, Zhongshan S Road and Xinyi Road every day between 9am and 10pm from Oct. 11 to Dec. 29 for a large-scale demonstration against the government.
“The police department recently denied our application on the grounds that the duration and route of the planned protest were too long. However, we were not even allowed to use the roads for one day,” Lin said.
TSU deputy whip Huang Wen-ling (黃文玲) questioned the legitimacy of the police department’s decision, saying that the Assembly and Parade Act (集會遊行法) only required groups or individuals planning a rally to apply for a permit in advance and did not impose a limit on the duration of an assembly or the length of its route.
“Does the police department only provide services to a specific political party? Does it take into account applicants’ political affiliation when deciding whether to grant them the rights to use public roads?” Huang asked, calling on the department to handle the party’s application without “playing favorites.”
In response, the department’s Peace Preservation Division said it had always handled applications for road use permits with impartiality and had never shown favor to a specific individual, civic group or political party.
The department only turned down the TSU’s application because the route of its planned event included several main roads and would pass through the security zone surrounding former vice president Annette Lu’s (呂秀蓮) residence, the division said.
“Furthermore, the period the party requested for was to coincide with a major election [the seven-in-one elections] and many road running events… We hope that the party can re-submit its application one to two months before its planned rally so that we can handle the case more justly,” the division said.
The seven-in-one elections are to be held concurrently at the end of this year to select the mayors of the five special municipalities, county commissioners, city mayors, five municipality councilors, county and city councilors, township chiefs and councilors, borough wardens and village heads.
Additional reporting by Wu Yueh-hsiu