Sat, Apr 23, 2016 - Page 3 News List

Groups condemn rejection of appeal to return Dapu land to original owners

BREACH:The court violated precedent by ruling that Miaoli County Government was only a participant in a lawsuit against the Ministry of the Interior, a lawyer said

By Abraham Gerber  /  Staff Reporter

From left, Taiwan Rural Front chairman Hsu Shih-jung, Peng Hsiu-chun and Thomas Chan yesterday protest outside the Executive Yuan in Taipei, urging the government to return land expropriated in connection with the Dapu Incident to its original owners.

Photo: Liu Hsin-de, Taipei Times

Members of two civic groups yesterday condemned the rejection of their appeal to return land expropriated duraing the Dapu Incident to the original owners, promising to continue their fight in court and calling on the incoming administration of Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) president-elect Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) to put pressure on the Miaoli County Government.

About 30 members of the Miaoli Youth Alliance and Taiwan Rural Front came together with residents of Miaoli County’s Dapu Borough (大埔) to protest the decision, which turned down the residents’ appeal to have the land returned to them after its expropriation was ruled illegal.

“The court has already ruled against the government and logically this would mean that the ‘status quo’ should be restored — why can the courts not side with vulnerable and underprivileged people?” Taiwan Rural Front chairman Hsu Shih-jung (徐世榮) said.

“The Taichung High Administrative Court has used a procedural question to avoid the logic on which it should have issued a ruling,” said Thomas Chan (詹順貴), an attorney and rights campaigner who represents the landowners free of charge.

He said the court violated precedent by ruling that the Miaoli County Government was only a participant in the civic groups’ original lawsuit against the Ministry of the Interior and was therefore not subject to a direct ruling.

In 2013, the ministry approved the Miaoli County Government’s expropriation of farmland in the county’s Jhunan Township (竹南) to expand the Hsinchu Science Park, leading to the forcible demolition of four family houses in Dapu.

Chan said that civic groups at the time had no choice but to file a lawsuit against the ministry over the expropriation, adding that the groups would appeal the court’s decision while continuing to pursue a separate lawsuit against the Miaoli County Government seeking monetary compensation.

The groups also called on Tsai’s incoming administration to put pressure on the Miaoli County Government to return the land to spare the landowners the trouble of a drawn-out legal process.

“We hope that after Tsai takes office she can resolve the issue, otherwise it would be extremely difficult for us to keep going,” said Peng Hsiu-chun (彭秀春), widow of Chang Sen-wen (張森文), who committed suicide shortly after his pharmacy was torn down during the demolition.

Youth Alliance for Miaoli member Chen Kuan-yu (陳冠宇) called for Tsai to find a “political” solution, while criticizing the court’s decision, saying it “opened the door” for further arbitrary expropriations.

“The court has used procedural reasoning to violate the rights of residents,” he said. “In the future, the county government will be able to forcibly expropriate your land and tear down your house and then present you with a fait accompli — telling you there is no way to restore the ‘status quo.’”

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