NUCLEAR POWER DEBATE: Civil and journalist bodies condemn violence by police

By Alison Hsiao  /  Staff reporter

Wed, Apr 30, 2014 - Page 3

The Taiwan Association for Human Rights and the Taiwan Civil Movement Documentation Association yesterday issued a joint statement denouncing state violence as practiced by the police and called for the Taipei City mayor to apologize.

Early on Monday morning, police evicted antinuclear protesters who by way of a sit-in had occupied Zhongxiao W Road, the main road south of the Taipei Railway Station, with batons and water cannons.

Protesters in their thousands launched a demonstration calling on the government to respond to their antinuclear cause on Sunday afternoon and staged a peaceful sit-in on the road, which lasted into the small hours of the next day, until riot police and water cannon trucks appeared at the scene.

Although President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) administration held a meeting with Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) mayors and reached a resolution on Sunday, it was announced by a KMT spokesperson, not by the executive administration, said the alliance, which was established on Saturday.

Civil Media, a civil movement documentaries database, was the predecessor of the Taiwan Civil Movement Documentation Association.

“The National Nuclear Abolition Action Platform and the protesters therefore decided to continue their sit-in late into the night to wait for an official response,” the statement said. “However, before dawn on Monday, without mediating a possible negotiation or any dialogue, Taipei City Mayor Hau Lung-bin (郝龍斌) ordered that the protesters and non-governmental organization [NGO] members be dispersed by police using batons, water cannons and tear gas.”

“The Ma administration, with its legitimacy waning, has been treating the public as its enemy since the ‘318 Parliament Occupation’ movement, refusing to talk to the NGOs and the public by closing off the roads surrounding the government buildings and the Presidential Office Building,” the statement said.

Not only were the protesters attacked by police brandishing batons and shields, and injured while being dragged away, “there were reporters who were hindered and attacked by the police while filming the law enforcers’ violent acts, a deed that has severely threatened freedom of the press,” the statement read.

The dispersion of reporters with force from the scene was also heavily criticized by the Association of Taiwan Journalists.

“Apple Daily reporters were on the pedestrian overpass, without disturbing the traffic or the police’s eviction task, when they encountered forced dispersion, even after informing the police that they were journalists. They were dragged away, beaten with batons and blocked when attempting to take photographs,” the association said.

It said it had already condemned the police’s undemocratic acts of violating reporters’ right to report on the day protesters stormed the Executive Yuan complex, demanding improvement.

“It is most unfortunate that the Taipei police department has again infringed reporters’ rights,” it said. “We are demanding that the department clarify the matter and apologize immediately, and that the Taipei City Government hold those involved in the violations accountable.”