Taiwan independence advocate Chen Yu-chang (陳俞璋) on Tuesday decried a High Court ruling that National Security Bureau (NSB) officers who confiscated his “Taiwan” flag and allegedly injured him would no longer have to pay compensation.
The High Court reversed an earlier ruling by the Taipei District Court, which ordered the NSB to pay Chen NT$100,000 for causing him mental distress when its officers forcibly confiscated a “Taiwan” flag and banner during the closing ceremony of the 2017 Taipei Summer Universiade.
“I am a proud Taiwanese and it was to assert my Taiwanese identity that I displayed the banner, but it was seized by force and I also sustained injuries in the process,” Chen, a member of pro-independence group From Ethnos to Nation, said in a statement. “The court ruling showed that the justice system is still pervaded by the colonial mentality of the Republic of China government.”
“After the first ruling was appealed, the court absolved the NSB, the Taipei City Government, Taipei police and the four military officers who attacked me of all responsibility for what happened, but Taiwanese will not give up and we will ensure that justice is served, by keeping up our fight to establish Taiwan as a nation,” it said.
Chen said that he had carried the banner — which said “TAIWAN” — to the closing ceremony, but four officers had grappled with him, confiscated the banner, arrested him and took him to a local police station for questioning.
The four officers — who did not identify themselves at the time, but who turned out to be military police officers under the NSB — had conducted an illegal arrest of a citizen, Chen said, questioning whether the Taipei City Government and the NSB had issued orders for officers to seize pro-Taiwan independence flags and banners.
Chen and From Ethnos to Nation filed a lawsuit, citing a breach of freedom of expression, physical assault causing injury, illegal seizure of personal property, kidnapping and forced confinement.
“Taiwan is the birthplace and homeland of Taiwanese, and the Summer Universiade was held in Taipei with more than 100 nations participating. Even China sent its athletes. Therefore at the closing ceremony, people holding up banners and flags bearing Taiwan, or a map of Taiwan, was above and beyond an expression of political ideology,” the original ruling said.
“Yet the security forces, in charge of protecting our nation’s leaders, came out against such actions. The court is unable to comprehend their reasoning,” it said, adding that it had therefore ruled that the NSB must pay compensation to Chen.
However, the High Court ruled that “the officers had acted appropriately, since Vice President Chen Chien-jen (陳建仁) was at the event, and Chen [Yu-chang] and other spectators were waving their Taiwan flags and banners, which resulted in confrontations with other spectators.”
“The situation was affecting their ability to maintain security at the event, and may have led to potential danger and crowd trouble, and other unexpected incidents,” it said.
“Security personnel had assessed that there was a need to remove the banners and flags, to remove the danger and prevent trouble, so their actions conformed to the proportionality of carrying out their duty,” the High Court ruling said.
“Our Constitution guarantees freedom of expression, and the protection of a citizen’s life and property from coming under threat. However, the military police officers did not identify themselves and did not follow proper procedures when making an arrest, but went on to illegally arrest and detain Chen [Yu-chang],” his lawyer, Lin Chien-hung (林建宏), said at the trial.
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