The Taipei City Police Department and Taipei Rapid Transit Corp (TRTC, 台北捷運公司) yesterday warned antinuclear protesters against an “Occupy the Mass Rapid Transit” (MRT) campaign announced on the Internet, saying such a protest would violate the Criminal Code and participants could face up to five years in prison.
The campaign details, which were posted online yesterday, called for 33,000 people boarding MRT trains on the Tamsui Line at the same time to protest against what organizers said was the government’s failure to respond to the public’s demand that the construction of the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant New Taipei City’s Gongliao District (貢寮) be halted.
The proposers of the campaign said the plan was a creative solution to police use of batons and water cannons to evict antinuclear protesters in Taipei on Sunday and after a 30-minute occupation of the intersection of Zhongxiao E and Linsen S roads on Tuesday was criticized by some members of the public.
“Let us see whether Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-bin (郝龍斌) would use water cannons against us in an MRT station,” the organizers said.
The Taipei City Police Department and TRTC issued a press release warning that the proposed protest could affect the travel plans of up to 1.85 million people.
Police said organizers of such an action and those who promote it could face prison terms of up to two years, while anyone convicted of taking part could receive a five-year sentence.
Protesters should not “hijack” the public’s safety and livelihoods, and the city government would “take all necessary legal measures to maintain social order,” city spokesperson Chang Chih-chiang (張其強) cited Hau as saying.
Meanwhile, the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) voiced concern about the “street guerrilla” demonstrations, especially the attempt on Tuesday to block lawmakers from leaving the Legislative Yuan.
Protesters on Tuesday said the lawmakers should not leave because they “were not doing their job of making antinuclear laws.”
DPP Legislator Hsiao Bi-khim (蕭美琴), who was criticized for complaining in a Facebook post about being blocked, apologized yesterday, saying that she was not trying to discredit the protesters’ efforts, but that cooperation and mutual understanding are important.
The protesters’ action could be interpreted as infringing lawmakers’ personal liberty, which is illegal and would “cross the line,” DPP caucus whip Ker Chien-ming (柯建銘) told reporters.
“If you cross the line and are unreasonable, the antinuclear cause will then be challenged and lose public support,” Ker said.
However, former premiers Frank Hsieh (謝長廷) and Yu Shyi-kun (游錫堃) said that the government’s failure to address people’s concerns had quickly caused the situation to get out of hand.
“If the administrative branch is paralyzed and does not respond quickly to demands, more people are likely to take extreme measures to get attention,” Hsieh said.
The Ministry of the Interior yesterday condemned anyone who protests “in an unlawful way,” vowing that it would make an all-out effort to disperse illegal demonstrations, even by putting “repeat offenders and extremists” in preemptive detention.
“Some activists have protested in an unlawful way, which not only affected others’ right to use public roads, but also intentionally challenged the government’s authority,” Deputy Minister of the Interior Jonathan Chen (陳敬純) told reporters after a meeting with the representatives of the National Police Agency, the Ministry of Justice and the Taipei City Government on dealing with future demonstrations that paralyze traffic.
“We will take harsh measures against repeat offenders and extremists,” Chen said. “We hope to stop them by asking prosecutors to ask [the courts] to pre-emptively detain these people.”
Meanwhile, Minister of the Interior Chen Wei-jen (陳威仁) said the ministry respected freedom of expression, but would not tolerate those who break the law.
“Our stance has always been to protect the lawful, sanction the unlawful and fight violence,” the minister said. “In addition to taking necessary measures to maintain order, the police will not hesitate to arrest those who may have violated the law, and therefore I would like to call on civic groups and protesters to not cross that ‘red line.’”
Chen Wei-jen said he was referring to action by antinuclear activists, who on Tuesday blocked the Legislative Yuan’s gates to keep lawmakers inside.
BUSY DAY: The same day the USS ‘Barry’ passed through the Strait, Taiwan was ending its Han Kuang military exercises, while China said it conducted an exercise near Taiwan A US Navy ship on Friday sailed through the Taiwan Strait, marking the ninth time a US military vessel has transited the Strait since US President Joe Biden took office in January. The USS Barry, an Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer, conducted a “routine” transit through the Strait, the US Navy said in a statement, adding that the journey through international waters was conducted “in accordance with international law.” “The ship’s transit through the Taiwan Strait demonstrates the US’ commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific,” the US Navy said. “The United States military flies, sails and operates anywhere international law allows.” The Ministry
FRUIT SPAT: The COA said China had not given evidence for halting wax and custard apple imports, adding that it would spend NT$1bn on promoting sales of the fruit Taipei threatened to take China to the WTO yesterday after Beijing said it would suspend wax apple and custard apple imports from Taiwan due to pest concerns. China’s customs administration earlier yesterday said it had repeatedly found pests called Planococcus minor, a type of mealybug, on wax and custard apples from Taiwan. It asked its Guangdong branch and all affiliated offices to stop clearing the products from today. China had acted unilaterally, without providing scientific evidence, Council of Agriculture (COA) Minister Chen Chi-chung (陳吉仲) told a news conference, criticizing the announcement’s timing, as it came during the Mid-Autumn Festival, celebrated in Taiwan
ON ALERT: A woman who tested positive for COVID-19 while abroad last year tested negative twice in Taiwan before showing a positive result on Sunday, the center said The Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) yesterday reported two locally transmitted COVID-19 infections, four imported cases and no deaths. The CECC meanwhile warned nearly 500 people to monitor their health after a woman tested postive. The center also reported that a previous local case — a female worker at Taoyuan International Airport Services (桃園航勤), who had the Delta variant of SARS-CoV-2 — likely contracted the disease from the same source as a previous imported case from Turkey. Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), who heads the center, said that the two local cases were reported in Taipei, and are a
CLOSED DOORS? The new US rules, which are to be implemented in November, have sparked concern in Taiwan, given its low fully vaccinated coverage rate The US plans to allow entry to most foreign air travelers as long as they are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 — while adding a testing requirement for unvaccinated Americans and barring entry for foreigners who have not received shots. The measures announced on Monday by the White House mark the most sweeping change to US travel policies in months, and widen the gap in rules between vaccinated people — who would see restrictions relaxed — and unvaccinated people. The new rules would replace existing bans on foreigners’ travel to the US from certain regions, including Europe. While the move would open the