Veterans group 800 Heroes yesterday said it would not give in to the Taipei City Government’s demand that the group remove its tents outside the Legislative Yuan and that it would urge its supporters to hold scattered protests in different parts of the city if the tents faced compulsory removal.
The tents as of yesterday had been on the sidewalk outside the Legislative Yuan for 401 days to protest the government’s pension reform policies.
The group received a notice from the Taipei Construction Management Office on Tuesday saying that the tents are illegal because the group’s permit for using the road and setting up the temporary tents had expired on Friday last week and a grace period of three days had passed.
The notice came after the office last week removed the Alliance of Referendum for Taiwan’s tents, which had been set up on a different road outside the Legislative Yuan for almost a decade.
Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je (柯文哲) earlier this week affirmed his determination to deal with and prevent long-term “political road-hogging” by taking firm legal action and modifying the regulations.
“We 800 Heroes strongly oppose [the demand] and will fight until the end,” said group commander Wu Chi-liang (吳其樑), a retired army lieutenant general.
“If you tear down our tents, we will go ‘plant a pot in the ground and cook rice’ in front of Taipei City Hall,” Wu said using a Chinese-language idiom used to describe a long-term protest.
Group spokesman Wu Sz-huai (吳斯懷), a retired lieutenant general, accused the city government of acting against democracy and justice, and vowed to never give in if the city government decides to forcibly remove the tents.
Wu Sz-huai said the group would mobilize more than 100,000 veterans to take to the streets and protest against the central government and the city government if the tents are removed.
Wu Chi-liang claimed that the group has always applied to use the road and set up the tents, adding that the protesters that occupied the Legislative Yuan during the Sunflower movement in 2014 were found not guilty in court, so the local government should use the same standards when dealing with 800 Heroes.
Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Taipei City Councilor Chung Hsiao-ping (鍾小平) said that Ko had ordered the removal of both groups of tents for political reasons — to please President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) and to gain the support of independent voters.
The Taipei Construction Management Office said the permit for the group to use the road expired on Friday last week and although the group had applied to continue using their tents in the area, the names of the applicants were different, rendering the existing tents an illegal construction.
However, as the compulsory removal of the tents would require police reinforcements, the office could not confirm when any possible action would be taken.
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