22 Nov 2008

Nov. 20 Wild Strawberries Respond to National Police Agency’s Evaluation of “Harmony Police Drill”

With regard to the November 18th evaluation of the “Harmony Police Drill” (協和演習), the National Police Agency based their conclusions solely on police reports and issued reprimands to only junior officers on duty for the harassment and excessive tactics during ARATS Chairman Chen Yun Lin’s visit. Commanding officers have yet to admit any mistakes with the overall security policy execution. The Wild Strawberries expressed regret towards such evaluation results and sympathy for the reprimanded junior officers.

For instance, the NPA investigation did not take into account the perspective of Sunrise Records. Owners stated that they did not voluntarily close the store and the store was in fact, forcibly shut down by the police. To add insult to injury, the responsible police department chief placed the blame on the owners instead of apologizing for closing a privately owned business. It is apparent that this investigation has not been conducted in a thorough or candid manner, and the NPA remains unapologetic towards the heavy-handed tactics which lacked legal basis; such an attitude has unfortunately compromised Taiwanese citizens’ confidence in law enforcement.

Moreover, the government has avoided providing any legal grounds for the recent controversial and heightened “public security maintenance measures” (e.g. balloon-flying in Chientan, forced entry of occupied hotel rooms at the Grand Hotel, destruction of national flags carried by private citizens, security checks of civilians and reporters near the Grand Hotel, blockage of the Chung-shan Bridge, confiscation of national flags outside of Taiwan Cement building, the Grand Formosa Regent Taipei Hotel incident, the forcible shutdown of Sunrise Records, and the police-civilian clashes near the Grand Hotel). Thus far, there has been insufficient explanation regarding whether law enforcement officers followed administrative procedures and no direct response to whether law enforcement tactics were indeed excessive.

Most importantly, the objective of the review was focused on whether the Chinese delegation was properly attended to (rather than whether citizens were fairly treated) and how to award/reprimand officers accordingly. As public servants, their blatant disregard for the welfare of citizens is simply unacceptable, especially in a democratic society. As such, we strongly urge the police and national security agencies to discuss the legality of their actions during Chen’s visit and re-examine apparent excessive law enforcement tactics. Perhaps a closer reexamination will allow the officials to finally understand the reasons behind the anger of Taiwanese citizens.

The Wild Strawberries re-emphasize that cases of power abuse during the heightened security period were not dispersed, isolated incidents. The prevalence of excessive tactics we have observed clearly suggests that high-level commanding officers were inept in formulating appropriate security measures and entirely disregarded fundamental human rights. Without a coherent strategy, junior law enforcement officers were unable to effectively and reasonably maintain public security, resulting in unfortunate (and oftentimes reluctant on the part of the junior officers) clashes with civilians. Once again, we call on the police and national security officials to reexamine the legality of their recent actions instead of punishing junior officers. The ability to admit to and accept responsibility for one’s mistakes is not only an act of bravery, but appropriate for a political appointee in a democratic society.
Translated from http://action1106.blogspot.com/2008/11/blog-post_3483.html