26 Dec 2008

1224 Wild Strawberry Press Conference Announcement

This week the Wild Strawberry Movement entered its seventh week.

The response from the government has been distinguished largely by being both scant and negative. The only response has been in regard to the Assembly and Parade Law, discussed from mid-November by the government, with draft revisions made public by the Executive Yuan on Dec. 4th.

However, when we took a closer look at the Executive Yuan version, we found that the Executive Yuan had completely ignored the 4 major demands of the Wild Strawberry Movement. The requirement that the government approve all political demonstrations, which we had asked be changed to a simply notification process, remains a compulsory
notification process, little different in practice from asking for government permission. The wording of the law regarding limitations on the location of public protests and assemblies was changed, but the law remains the same, in fact becoming even more restrictive, with the an increase in the size of the area that can be restricted from public access for protests and assemblies. Nor was the police power to dismiss assemblies revoked. Although the Special Penalty for illegal assembly was abolished, the duration of the punishment was in fact lengthened. This has had a chilling effect on the public's right to assemble.

The new Assembly and Parade Law means only a change of names, not substance, and in fact places even stricter limits on the public's right to speak freely. These changes were certainly not desired or supported by the Wild Strawberries. Once again, we wish to re-emphasize our 4 demands for modifications to the Assembly and
Parade Law: (1)change the application for a parade permit to a notification system; (2) curb the arbitrary authority of the police to arrest demontrators and dismiss protests; (3) change the law so that violations are treated as administrative violations requiring fines, rather than criminal acts carrying jail sentences; and (4) lift restrictions on places where assemblies and parades can be held. The
Wild Strawberries refuse to sanction the government's modifications to the Assembly and Parade Law, which suppress the right of the people to speak and act freely. We hope that in future discussions of the Assembly and Parade Law, the government will support the version drafted by Legislator Chu Feng-chih (朱鳳芝).