Thu, Apr 12, 2018 - Page 3 News List

Coalition decries bid to limit protests

By Ann Maxon  /  Staff reporter

A coalition of groups yesterday criticized Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-che’s (柯文哲) proposal to tighten rules on protests, which they said would be unconstitutional and should be immediately halted.

Ko on March 27 said the government would tighten regulations on protests to restore order in the city and described activists that set up camps for long-term protests as “political road hogs.”

Under the proposed rules, any temporary structures built for a protest would not be allowed to stay up longer than the actual protest and the city government would take legal action against anyone who protests outside their permitted demonstration areas.

The city government has torn down three protest camps since late last month: one belonging to the Alliance of Referendum for Taiwan on Jinan Road, the Aboriginal Transitional Justice Classroom’s (原住民轉型正義小教室) site next to Exit 1 of the National Taiwan University Hospital MRT station and the 800 Heroes site on Zhongshan S Road.

Amis singer Panai Kusui, a member of the Classroom, said the group has been protesting on the street because the central government has encroached upon the rights of Aboriginal communities by violating the Aboriginal Basic Act (原住民族基本法).

“To protect our home, we had no choice but to protest and demand that the government change its regulations on Aborigines’ traditional territories, but the police have repeatedly destroyed our camps,” she said.

The group has been staging a protest in Taipei since February last year to back its demands that the central government redraw the boundaries of Aborigines’ traditional territories and fire Council of Indigenous Peoples Minister Icyang Parod, who promoted the current regulations, which prevent private lands from being included in Aboriginal territories.

Tang Tso-hsin (唐佐欣), a resident of the Daguan (大觀) community in New Taipei City’s Banciao District (板橋), said the Taipei City Government has used all kinds of regulations over the past year to restrict the public’s right to protest while ignoring its requests.

Following a march organized by residents on Mar. 24 to oppose their forced eviction, 10 of the protesters received traffic tickets for not observing traffic lights during the march and many were charged with contravening the Assembly and Parade Act (集會遊行法) and posing a threat to public safety, she said.

“This is how Taipei City Government treats political dissidents,” she said.

Members of the group have also been charged and fined on other occasions for coercion, trespassing, damaging property and breaching the Social Order Maintenance Act (社會秩序維護法), Tang said.

The city government should immediately halt its plans to tighten rules on protests and ease the current regulations, Taiwan Association for Human Rights legal specialist Wang Si (王曦) said.

“What Ko has proposed goes beyond the power of the city government and contravenes the Assembly and Parade Act, not to mention Article 14 of the Constitution and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights,” she said.

Taipei City Government official Chen Chien-ming (陳建銘) received a letter of complaint from the coalition and promised to a formally reply would be given in two weeks.

The city respects the public’s right to protest and will do its best to assist protesters, he said.

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