12 Dec 2008

[1211Press Release] The day right after Human Rights Day. The governemnt exiled Tibetans and WS

On International Human Rights Day, President Ma Ying-jeou vowed to safeguard human rights, saying that “= st1 ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags" />Taiwan enjoys the freest parades and assemblies around the world.” Less than four hours after Human Rights Day, at 4 am on December 11th 2008, law enforcement authorities dispatched approximately 300 officers and numerous police transport wagons surrounding Liberty Square. Wild Strawberries demonstrators and approximately 100 exiled Tibetans were forcibly removed from the square via police transport wagons.

The Wild Strawberries strongly protest against such excessive police tactics to disperse the students, especially given the most recent rational and peaceful rally (on Sunday) and the subsequent publicly announced intention of leaving the Square as well as the close communication with police officers on the logistics. Clearly the new Zhongzheng Bureau chief Chen Ming-cheng (unlike his predecessor) ignored signs of good faith and refused to believe that the students were planning to leave Liberty Square, considering he forcibly removed the students at 4:00 a.m., when students were fast asleep and media reporters had left for the day. We challenge President Ma’s notion that Taiwan enjoys freedom of parade and assembly and questions whether the current Administration can only tolerate opposition voices for a month. More importantly, was unexpectedly dispersing the students at 4:00 a.m. the best response from President Ma Ying-jeou and Premier Liu Chao-hsung?

Around 4 a.m., police officers and several police transport wagons arrived at Liberty Square to prepare to remove protesters. Within the hour, officers forcibly took 111 Tibetans away and increased to four police wagons. At around 4:30 AM, more than 300 officers surrounded 40 students, who then staged an impromptu sit-in and called out “Abuse of State Power, Unconstitutional Parade and Assembly Law”. Assistant Professor Lee Ming-tsung (of the National Taiwan University’s Department of Sociology) rushed to the square and negotiated with the police. Officers indicated that if the Wild Strawberries had not assisted the Tibetan protesters [with resources left over from the Wild Strawberries sit-in], they would not have forcibly dispersed the incoming protesters (exiled Tibetans).

After negotiation efforts failed, the police started to remove the students’ supplies at the Square and soon after, the students themselves. Several students were injured during the removal process; one male student was kicked by the police. To add insult to injury, officers were disrespectful towards and ridiculed the students, all the while almost gleefully declared that they can “finally take them away.” Around 5:20 a.m., the police dragged and carried 40-some students onto the transport wagons.

The Wild Strawberries condemn the enforcement of the unconstitutional Parade and Asssembly Law and the unfair treatment towards the exiled Tibetans, who did not resist police efforts to disperse them. While the Wild Strawberries were transported to the front gates of National Taiwan University via three police transport wagons [in Taipei], exiled Tibetans who are far less familiar with the city were transported to Neihu’s Dahu Park and Guandu [suburbs of Taipei]. Towards the end of the removal operation as the police was speaking to the press, a supporter of Tibet shouted out “Ma Ying-jeou - please save Tibet.”

That the forcible removal by the police was the result of the Wild Strawberries helping out exiled Tibetans indicates the authoritarian nature of our current Administration as well as the Administration’s fear of more unified and collaborative citizens. In Europe and the United States, the rights of exiled Tibetans are safeguarded and humanitarian assistance is often offered. On the other hand, the Ma Administration’s hypocrisy is painfully apparent: while President Ma recently stated the H.E. Dalai Lama will be invited to visit Taiwan at the “appropriate time,” the Administration decided to forcibly remove exiled Tibetans and the Wild Strawberries (who offered assistance) during the wee hours, and only four hours after the International Human Rights Day. Police action begs the question of how President Ma can declare that Taiwan will become a human rights country.

Last but not least, the Wild Strawberries strongly condemn the lack of legal grounds for the police to remove the resources at Liberty Square [which were to be donated to exiled Tibetans]. The Wild Strawberries will file a formal complaint and demand a full police report citing Article 29 of the “Police Enforcement Act.”

[Taiwan News] Taiwan Wild Strawberry Movement students to form observation group in case trial against state violence

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – The case filed by citizens against state violence will open at Taipei District Court Friday. The three plaintiffs, Wild Strawberry Movement students, scholars, and social groups plan to form an observation group to attend the hearing.

The observation group is formed to observe and take records of the court session. On the same day Dec. 12, social groups and student protesters will also hold a “private court” to try the state violence case at the Liberty Square. (more)

The Biggest Ironic Show in Taiwan, 4 hours after the Human Rights Day.

[Wild Strawberries, Taipei, Taiwan]
Dec 11th , 2008

After four hours of Human Rights Day, Taiwanese government forced students and Tibetan refugees to leave the Liberty Square, and moved everything students had sat up there at Dec 11th, 2008, 4 am in the dark. Handling only 30 students of Wild Strawberries Student Movement, who is protesting police violence and defend human rights, Taiwanese government used more than 300 officers with shield and weapons to circle around students, dozens of heavy-guarded buses, to drag them one by one to the buses and cleaned the Liberty Square.

While police force tried to untie students against their will to leave, several students were hurt during the process by violently beating or twisting while some policemen was laughing with arrogant attitude. One student recalled: “Yes, I remember the faces they had while they tore us down. They were laughing. They cursed us, shouting ‘finally I can chase you out! Sons of Bitch! ” Another student said that they were trying to negotiate with the police that they are going to leave peacefully, voluntarily. But this request was answered with more police with weapons at hand to surround 30 students in the center at dark.

At the north side of the Liberty Square, about 100 Tibetan refugees were also forced to walk into the police buses by themselves peacefully in the dark. They hold posters such as “I love Taiwan” and said they were in debt to come here and have stayed here several years without any legal status. Taiwanese government tried to ignore them instead of helping them. But if they got return to India or Tibet, they will get serious punishments and they’ve rather die. Most of them cannot speak Mandarin and did not resist against police at all. However, the Taiwanese police divided them deliberately into 6 buses and drove them to six different sites among the suburban mountains to “dispose” in the morning. Students of wild strawberries were trying anxiously to reach and locate them by cell phone, but Tibetans, as foreigners in Taiwan, could hardly recognize where they were in Taipei.

How could Taiwan, claiming to be a democratic, free country, did such crime without any humanity concern to Tibetans and students? How could police force imply such mean and well-planned strategies to treat an peaceful students movement and Tibetan refugees? Ironically, less than 24 hours ago, President Ma in Taiwan announced in public, saying “Taiwan is the most free country to assembly and parade in the world” in an occasion of hosting an human rights award ceremony, while two or three students and Tibetan among the audience were forced to leave. What a lie, what a show.

Why Taiwanese government ignore but tolerant the students’ movement at Liberty Square for more than one month, but suddenly they changed their mind and forced students to leave? The answer is the group of Tibetan refugee with more than 100 members, coming to Liberty Square to stay since this Tuesday. During the negotiation with police, students were warned in advance: “ If you helped those Tibetan, you can protect yourselves.” However, students share their sleeping bags, jackets, scarf, water, shelters and food with Tibetan during the night, while the weather was chilly and windy in Taipei. Students were told: “it is because you helped Tibetan, so we have to force you out!”

After the “cleaning” of Liberty Square, students and Tibetans came back to the Liberty Square after they were “abandoned” by police. Students hold an press conference together with Tibetans and announce that they are going to stay there. The representative of the Tibetan refugees also expressed his appreciation for students helps. Students of Wild Strawberries also announced their strongest support for Tibetan refugees and expressed their anger at the government’s cruel treatment on Tibetans.

How could a democratic state turn Tibetan refugee around and bully its own young people to help Tibetan refugees? This awkward attitude is the vivid image that President Ma is trying to do: to impress Beijing. Ma is busy to correct his talking about the visit of Dalai Lama recently, saying : “It is not a good time for him to visit Taiwan”, while Dalai Lama was visiting France. He then further chased out the peaceful Tibetan refugees with students in Liberty Square.

The Wild Strawberries Movement was begun at Nov 6th 2008 in Taipei, while an Chinese envoy visited Taiwan and Taiwanese government used heavy police force and heavy tactic to prevent the envoy from hearing Taiwanese protesting violence. They’ve got more than 140,000 people’s signature to support them and more than 900 scholars in Taiwan supports them as well. It was their 35 day silent sit-in at liberty square and they hold a peaceful parade this passing Sunday. They’ve announced to change their site this week and planned to leave the Liberty Square soon.

* CNN i-report: what happened at the beginning…(video) http://www.ireport.com/docs/DOC-156557

* How police treat students and Tibetan yesterday (news + video) http://www.taipeitimes.com/News/front/archives/2008/12/12/2003430879

Liberty Square Protest

Podcast about the protests.

[Taipei Times] Wild Strawberries forced to vacate Liberty Square

The Wild Strawberry Student Movement yesterday criticized the government after the surprise eviction by police early yesterday morning of the 40 student protesters and a group of Tibetan activists who remained at Liberty Square following the students’ rally on Sunday.

“[The eviction took place] less than 24 hours after President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) said [at a Human Rights Day event] that people in Taiwan enjoy the most freedom to assemble and parade [in the world],” movement spokesman Lo Shih-hsiang (羅士翔) told a press conference.

“At about 5am, the students who were staging a silent sit-in at Liberty Square were besieged and removed by police along with about 100 Tibetan activists, without any warning. We are very ashamed by [the police action],” Lo said. (more)

Save Tibet / Save Taiwan

After the incident yesterday it might be a smart move to contact the tibetians and help each other: