Fri, Oct 14, 2016 - Page 3 News List

EDU activists hail landmark ruling

DEMOCRACY:The Taoyuan District Court ruled against three Novotel staffers who broke into rooms rented by EDU activists during a 2014 visit by a Chinese minister

By Jason Pan  /  Staff reporter

Student movement leader Chen Wei-ting, front center, and others hold up red cards as they demand that China’s Taiwan Affairs Office Minister Zhang Zhijun stop interfering in Taiwanese politics at a rally outside the Hotel Novotel Taipei Taoyuan International Airport in Taoyuan on June 25, 2014.

Photo: Liu Hsin-de, Taipei Times

Economic Democracy Union (EDU) lawyers and activists yesterday hailed a court decision against Novotel Taipei Taoyuan International Airport a landmark ruling for the protection of human rights.

Human rights lawyer and EDU convener Lai Chung-chiang (賴中強) endorsed the Taoyuan District Court ruling that found three Hotel Novotel Taipei Taoyuan International Airport staff members guilty of trespass, sentencing them to 30 days in jail.

Lai said the ruling upholds human rights protection and democratic values as cherished by society.

EDU activists in June 2014 rented two rooms at the hotel as part of a plan to stage a protest against the official visit of China’s Taiwan Affairs Office Minister Zhang Zhijun (張志軍), who was on a four-day tour.

“The hotel staff were instructed by the airport’s Aviation Police Bureau officials to break down the door to the hotel rooms we had rented and detain us,” Lai said. “They did not have arrest warrants and carried out an unlawful act.”

“It was important that the court ensured our legal protection, and the safety and freedom of travelers staying in the hotel,” he added. “This case can help teach people not to act as an accomplice to police and not to aid illegal conduct by any law enforcement agency.”

Zhang was staying at the same hotel. Video footage shows hotel staff using tools to break into the rooms occupied by the activists, forcing their way inside. The activists were detained for 10 hours.

Lai said at the time: “I booked the rooms through the regular reservation system and paid for them, so, legally, they are the same as a private home during that period. The police and the hotel staff had no right to do what they did.”

At yesterday’s briefing, Lai said that the court’s guilty verdict was a landmark ruling that helps to preserve democracy, due process of law and respect for human rights, which Taiwanese have won through very difficult struggles over the decades, and which should not be sacrificed by pandering to the interests of the Chinese government.

EDU defense lawyer Chang Chih-peng (張志朋) said his clients lost the first ruling in civil court for financial damages against the hotel staff, along with a written apology to be published in the nation’s major newspapers, but they have appealed that decision, which is currently undergoing proceedings at the high court.

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