Democratic Progressive Party (DPP)-sponsored reforms to the Assembly and Parade Act (集會遊行法) ignore the act’s core flaws, civil activists said yesterday, blasting draft legislation that upholds police rights to forcefully disperse demonstrators, while failing to eliminate “forbidden zones” near government buildings.
More than 20 demonstrators from the Huaguang Community Canvassing Working Group (華光社區訪調小組), the National Alliance for Workers of Closed Factories, Taiwan Association for Human Rights and other groups protested outside DPP headquarters before marching to the Taiwan High Court building for a hearing on a government suit against Huaguang activists, who face possible prison terms for “interfering with official duties” during efforts to prevent the community’s demolition.
Huaguang demonstrators who led the march wore chains to symbolize unfair legal restrictions on protest rights, with other people periodically playing horns, trombones and trumpets.
The use of trumpets was a play on the pronunciation of the word “trumpet,” an offensive Hoklo phrase lanpa (卵葩, testicles), to criticize “bombastic” DPP promises.
“The DPP has always claimed that they would continually push for human rights, but we do not see any real sincerity in their revision of the Assembly and Parade Act,” Huaguang Community Canvassing Working Group member Ho Yu-lun (何友倫) said.
The Legislative Yuan’s Internal Administration Committee last week passed draft amendments to the act, removing application requirements, fines and prison sentences, and imposing new duties on police to protect demonstrators.
However, the amendments continue to allow police to forcefully disperse demonstrators and only shrink – rather than eliminate – “restricted” zones that police can impose near government buildings, violating two key demands of civil activists.
Ho said that the wording of the amendments would make police dispersion even more difficult to check by requiring only that police negotiate with demonstrators before dispersing them, differing from previous wording, which stated that police officers must issue three clear warnings before dispersal.
“Because there is no way to determine whether police have already ‘negotiated,’ they would be able to directly disperse demonstrators,” he said.
Huaguang Community Canvassing Working Group member Cheng Chung-hao (鄭仲皓) said preserving restricted zones unfairly limits demonstrators’ freedom of speech by preventing government officials from being forced to hear their demands.
“Police should not be allowed to set up a ‘defense’ against our protest rights,” he said, adding that rules should instead allow police to force protestors to withdraw to a “safe distance” only if special circumstances arise.
“Shrinking the size of restricted zones is a word game because it will not change any real conditions,” labor activist Kuo Kuan-chun (郭冠均) said, adding that police already choose not to establish maximum “restricted zones” near most ministries and government buildings.
Demonstrators also called for the DPP to not ignore revisions to other laws.
A study published by online booking platform Expedia revealed searches for travel to Taipei have ballooned 2,786 percent following the lifting of COVID-19 pandemic travel restrictions due to the city being a “designation dupe” for Seoul. The TikTok trend for duping — referring to substituting a designation for a more inexpensive alternative — helped propel interest in Taipei, it said in a consumer survey titled “Unpack ‘24,” which was conducted from September to October in 14 countries. Location dupes are “every bit as delightful as the tried-and-true places travelers love,” Expedia trend tracker Melanie Fish said of the year’s popular alternatives, which
SAFETY IN REGULATION: The proposal states that Chiayi should assess whether it is viable to establish such a district and draft rules to protect clients and sex workers The Chiayi City Council passed a motion yesterday to assess the viability of establishing a regulated red-light district. The council yesterday held its last session of the year, at which its fiscal 2024 budget was approved, along with 61 other proposals. The proposal to assess the viability of establishing a red-light district was put forward by independent Chiayi City Councilor Molly Yen (顏色不分藍綠支持性專區顏色田慎節). The proposal cited 2011 amendments to the Social Order Maintenance Act (社會秩序維護法), which stipulate that city and county governments can pass autonomous regulations on the sex trade to manage the industry and guarantee industry workers’ rights. A ban on the
CHINA illness surge: Of 88 travelers from China, Hong Kong and Macau with respiratory symptoms who were encouraged to get tested upon arrival, 70.6% had the flu Two hundred and sixty people with COVID-19 were hospitalized and 31 deaths related to the virus were reported last week — the highest numbers in four weeks, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) said yesterday, adding that cases are expected to peak next month. CDC Epidemic Intelligence Center Director Guo Hung-wei (郭宏偉) said that of the 260 people hospitalized last week with moderate to severe COVID-19, 98 percent had not received the Omicron XBB.1.5-adapted COVID-19 vaccine. Among the people hospitalized this year, 78 percent were aged 65 or older, while most of the those who were hospitalized or died have or had
A small-scale protest that called on the government to cancel its plan to welcome Indian migrant workers in a bid to tackle Taiwan’s labor shortage was held in Taipei yesterday. During the protest, comprised of a few dozen people staged in front of the Presidential Office on Ketagalan Boulevard, the protest’s chief initiator, a woman identified only as “Yuna” said they wanted the central government to reconsider allowing migrant workers from India to enter Taiwan. Most people in Taiwan had little knowledge about the potential plan to allow in Indian migrant workers until a report in the media last month, she