14 Dec 2008

FAPA Statement regarding police break-up of Wild Strawberry sit-in

December 12th , 2008
Contact: (202) 547-3686

Washington DC. Today, the Formosan Association for Public Affairs (FAPA) expressed its anger and dismay at the forcible removal of the "Wild Strawberries" students and a group of some 100 Tibetans from Freedom Plaza in Taipei in the night of December 10th 2008 – International Human Rights Day.

The students had been encamped at the Freedom Plaza since November 6th 2008, when they initiated the "Wild Strawberry Movement" and organized a month-long sit in on Freedom Plaza in Taipei, protesting the excessive use of force by police during the visit of Chinese envoy Chen Yunlin, and urging the Ma government to revise the Assembly and Parade Law.

FAPA considers the student sit-in a peaceful expression of concern, which is guaranteed under the principle of freedom of speech and of assembly. FAPA thus deeply regret that at 4:00 am in the early morning of December 11th, some 200+ police with shields and sticks arrived at the Plaza and first evicted a group of some 100 Tibetan refugees, who had been at the Plaza since December 9th, urging the Taiwan government to grant them residence and work permits.

Then at 5:30 am, the police moved in on the remaining group of some 40 students, who sat down on the ground, interlocking hands and arms. After considerable pushing and shoving, the students were forced on several trucks and transported back to National Taiwan University.

According to reports from Taiwan, the police moved in when the encamped students started to assist the Tibetan refugees, providing them with warm clothing against the cold, tents, food, and other supplies. The police stated that the students were evicted "…because they had not applied for a permit under the Assembly and Parade Law" – precisely the same anachronistic law the students were trying to get changed.

FAPA President Prof. Bob Yang stated that "…as Taiwanese-Americans we highly value the basic principles of human rights and democracy in Taiwan, and consider these actions by the Ma government a severe infringement on freedom of speech and of assembly." He added: "We will raise this issue in our contacts with the US State Department and with members of Congress."

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