Lawmakers across party lines yesterday criticized a recent search by military police of the home of a man who allegedly had documents pertaining to the White Terror era, saying such conduct was reminiscent of the darkest period in the nation’s history.
“Such a home search is utterly reprehensible given that there is little chance the act of possessing documents from a period marred by the absence of the rule of law would break any laws,” Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Kuan Bi-ling (管碧玲) said on Facebook.
Kuan said she has written to the Ministry of National Defense demanding an explanation for the Feb. 19 search of the house belonging to a man, surnamed Wei (魏), who has been charged by the Taipei Military Police Station with possessing stolen property and interfering with personal privacy by selling old government documents.
According to an Internet post on Saturday by Wei’s daughter, her father’s collection of several White Terror era documents was confiscated by military police after they searched her home without a warrant.
She said that her father had been taken in for questioning, which lasted several hours, and was not released until midnight. The ministry subsequently offered him NT$15,000 in “hush money,” she said.
The Military Police Command yesterday dismissed her claims, saying her father had signed a consent form for the search and had voluntarily handed over the documents. The investigation was conducted in accordance with due process, it said.
DPP spokesman Yang Chia-liang (楊家俍) said in a news release that such conduct was unimaginable in a democratic nation, and went beyond the military police’s mandate.
“We denounce such an unlawful abuse of power and infringement of human rights,” Yang said, urging the government agencies involved to discipline the responsible personnel and the legislature to step up its supervision of such matters.
New Power Party (PFP) Legislator Hsu Yung-ming (徐永明) said the incident was a repeat of the White Terror era.
His office has asked the Military Police Command and ministry officials to attend a news conference today to clarify the situation.
“I have also demanded that they make public relevant documents,” Hsu wrote on Facebook.
The People First Party caucus issued a statement saying that any search of a private residence required a warrant and that even an emergency case would need consent from judicial authorities afterward.
“This case was neither urgent nor did it pose a threat to the public. The Military Police Station’s conduct crossed the red line of human rights laid down by the Constitution and indicates a need for further legal education,” the caucus said.
Caucus director Chang Sho-wen (張碩文) said the apparent lack of legal training for military police shows that the nation’s authoritarian legacy continues to linger.
“Military police officers are mainly responsible for investigating cases involving military personnel... Illegal questioning of civilians by military police is a product of the authoritarian regime and should not continue to exist in a democracy,” Chang said.
Caucus convener Lee Hung-chun (李鴻鈞) said the government must find out who ordered the military police to investigate Wei.
We must not let the remainders of authoritarianism continue to hang over our democratic society, Lee said.