The Ministry of the Interior has drawn criticism for a letter asking the Taiwan Association for Justice of Urban Renewal (TAJUR) to stop distributing information on its Web site using the name “Taiwan Alliance for Victims of Urban Renewal (台灣都市更新受害者聯盟),” and threatening that the group could be disbanded if it continues to do so.
“This is a breach of freedom of expression. The ministry has no right to tell me what name my organization should use on the Internet; it’s like declaring martial law on the Internet,” association chairman Peng Lung-san (彭龍三) said yesterday. “If I want to publish articles on the Internet or in a newspaper, can the government tell me not to use a pseudonym? Of course not!”
Peng received an official letter from the ministry earlier this week, telling him that the association should not distribute information on its Web site using the name “Taiwan Alliance for Victims of Urban Renewal.”
Photo: Loa Iok-sin, Taipei Times
By doing so, Peng is violating the Civil Associations Act (人民團體法) by not using the officially registered name of the organization, the letter said.
If TAJUR ignores the warning, its permit could be voided and the group could be disbanded, the ministry said.
One of the few residents still resisting a urban renewal project initiated by a construction firm because he believes that the rights of original residents were not well protected, Peng founded his organization two years ago. Since then he has worked with many people to organize demonstrations and rallies against urban renewal projects that favor construction firms.
Peng said he first tried to register his organization as “Taiwan Alliance for Victims of Urban Renewal” but the application was turned down.
“The ministry disagreed with the name, saying that it might ‘mislead’ the public to believe that urban renewal projects are negative, and create victims,” he said in an interview with the Taipei Times, showing other official notices from the ministry rejecting his earlier ideas for the group’s name.
“We made concessions at the end, but the government never stops to giving us trouble,” he said.
“I suspect that the construction firm is behind this,” Peng said.
However, Chen Su-chun (陳素春), acting director of the ministry’s Department of Social Affairs, said the letter was sent because the ministry received complaints “from the public.”
Chen denied a construction firm had filed the complaint.
“Actually, our intention was only to assist civic groups, because they should always use their legal names when giving out information,” Chen said. “TAJUR is the only organization to receive the warning, because we’ve received complaints about the organization twice.”
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