The Miaoli District Prosecutors’ Office yesterday indicted seven people, including Youth Alliance for Miaoli spokesman Chen Wei-ting (陳為廷), for interfering with official duties and destroying property among other charges during a series of protests last year over the demolition of four farmers’ homes in Dapu Borough (大埔).
Prosecutors said the seven were charged with violating the Assembly and Parade Act (集會遊行法), contempt of authority, obstructing officials in carrying out their duties, causing bodily harm and property damage.
The seven staged a series of protests after the Miaoli County Government on July 18 last year partially or completely flattened the four remaining houses resisting demolition to make way for a science park in the farming village of Dapu in the county’s Jhunan Township (竹南).
One of the protests took place outside the former house of Chang Sen-wen (張森文), one of the four homeowners whose body was found in September last year in an irrigation channel about 200m from the site.
Miaoli County Commissioner Liu Cheng-hung (劉政鴻) attempted to visit the Chang family on Sept. 18 after Chang’s body was found, but relatives, friends and supporters of the family stood outside the house to block his entry. Liu was hit by a shoe during the confrontation.
Chen later admitted he threw the shoe, prompting Liu to file a lawsuit against him.
At another rally on Aug. 16 last year, 1,000 people sang to show support for the Dapu homeowners and later threw eggs at the county government building to express their anger at the government. Fifteen police officers were accidentally hit by the eggs, including officer Chang Shih-hsiung (張世雄), who was rushed to a hospital after his right eyeball was injured by eggshell fragments.
Another incident took place on Sept. 14 last year, during which protesters clashed with police when the former dared Liu to come forward and take questions from the public over the Dapu case.
In response to the indictment yesterday, Chen said he did not intend to break the law when he took part in the protests.
“The county government had abused its power by destroying people’s homes and we were simply expressing civil disobedience,” he said.
Chen said that Liu should be held responsible for what happened, since the conflict was all because of the commissioner’s disrespect for a family in mourning.
“Liu told the media that he has taken legal action to defend the dignity of government employees, but I would say that a government employee does not deserve to be respected if he disrespects a family in mourning and upsets people,” Chen said in a statement.