Thu, Oct 05, 2017 - Page 3 News List

INTERVIEW: Crackdown targets gangs hijacking protests

National Police Agency Director-General Chen Chia-chin told ‘Liberty Times’ (sister newspaper of the ‘Taipei Times’) reporters Huang Chung-hsien and Lin Ching-chua that police will not tolerate politically motivated violence by organized crime groups, in an exclusive interview following an attack by alleged Chinese Unity Promotion Party members against university students last month

National Police Agency Director-General Chen Chia-chin speaks during an interview on Friday last week.

Photo: Huang Yao-cheng, Taipei Times

Liberty Times (LT):Organized crime groups have been increasingly meddling with politics since the Democratic Progressive Party government took office last year and the public wants the police to take a more active role in stopping the interference. What are your thoughts about the issue?

Chen Chia-chin (陳家欽): People’s right to free speech and assembly is protected by the police. What the police will not stand is a criminal organization hiding behind a political party that it had merged with. The police will not tolerate gangsters using protests as a pretext to instigate violence against legal assemblies and public hearings.

The public detests acts of violence committed by people affiliated with criminal organizations under the guise of political protest. My unshakable conviction is to mop them up completely.

Many incidents occurred after a public hearing was held to discuss food imports from five Japanese prefectures near the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant and there have been disturbances during regional public forums on pension forum. Earlier this year, Hong Kong democracy activists Joshua Wong (黃之鋒) and others were nearly assaulted when they arrived in Taiwan.

A police analysis of the incidents showed that the Chinese Unity Promotion Party was used as a cover by gang members to commit violent acts.

In response, the Taiwan High Prosecutors’ Office has launched a cross-agency operation with the Investigation Bureau, the Criminal Investigation Bureau, the police departments of Taipei and New Taipei City, and the police bureaus of Keelung and Taoyuan.

The operation is directed against the Bamboo Union’s chapters and squadrons. Through the investigation into their illegal activities, their leaders and key members will be identified as high-priority targets for law enforcement operations.

The probe is focused on finding the organization’s cash sources and cutting them off. Police and investigators are building an organized crime case and doing everything in their power to find evidence.

More importantly, the National Police Agency (NPA) has launched “Operation Neutralize Violence.” Every police department and bureau in the nation is taking part in it, which has no end date or time limit. In other words, this crackdown on organized crime will not end until the latter is destroyed.

LT: Police often arrest or summon suspects quickly, only to see them bailed out just as fast. Do you think there are people in the judiciary who are not taking the cases as seriously as they should, or do you think the laws are flawed?

Chen: We, the police, will strictly enforce the law regarding gang members who repeatedly commit violent acts at political protests and rallies. My view is that the prosecution and police are united against crime. The Taipei District Prosecutors’ Office and police are doing everything they can. It is a separate, though valid, discussion whether the laws are flawed and in need of amendment.

LT: During the incident on Sept. 24, when a scuffle broke out during the ‘Sing! China: Shanghai-Taipei Music Festival,’ police did not arrive at the scene until 40 minutes after the first call and a precinct chief was replaced as a result. What are your thoughts?

Chen: First of all, the Taipei Police Department deserves praise for identifying a man, surnamed Hu (胡), as a person of interest and calling him in for questioning on the evening of the incident. The efficiency and initiative the department has displayed is exemplary.

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