13 Dec 2008

[GroundReport] Taiwan Government Cracks Down on Student Protests of 'Wild Strawberries' Movement

The forced eviction of Wild Strawberries Movement at the Freedom Square this morning (Dec 11), just a few hours after the International Human Rights Day, shows the Taiwan government's hypocrisy in the implementation of human rights .

On International Human Rights Day (12/10), Taiwan President Ma Ying-jeou asked the Legislature to give endorsement to two international human rights documents (the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights) to help implement human rights protection in Taiwan. The speech was made in Asian Democracy and Human Rights Award, an annual event organized by the Taiwan Foundation for Democracy. (more)

Demonstrations in Taiwan in the Press

[Taiwan News] Social groups in Taiwan protest KMT’s attempt to interfere in PTS operations

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – The opposition Democratic Progressive Party yesterday returned the proposal made by ruling Kuomingtang Policy Committee Chief Executive Lin Yi-shih (林益世) to the Legislative Procedural Committee. Lin’s proposal to amend the Public Television Act to increase number of board member of Public Television Service has met protests by PTS employees, visual workers, Association of Taiwan Journalists (AJT) among 63 social groups for the ruling party’s attempt to intervene in PTS operations. ...

[Taipei Times] Scores of civic groups rally in support of Public Television Service

More than 60 civic organizations staged a protest outside the Legislative Yuan yesterday, demanding the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) caucus reconsider a proposal on controlling the budget for Public Television Service (PTS). The KMT caucus froze the NT$450 million (US$13.5 million) budget for PTS for the second half of this year and has come up with a proposal that all programming budget be approved by the Government Information Office (GIO) first.

The proposal has drawn criticism from the opposition, civic groups, filmmakers and academics, who called it a KMT attempt to control the media. ...

[Taipei Times] Crowd condemns violence ahead of hearing

Accompanied by hundreds of supporters, three women who have filed lawsuits against the police for allegedly beating them during anti-China protests last month, marched to the Taipei District Court for their first court hearing yesterday. “Our judicial system is not perfect, but we still have some expectations of it. That's why we're trying to seek justice through the judiciary against police abuses,” Judicial Reform Foundation executive director Lin Feng-cheng (林峰正) told a crowd gathered at Liberty Square in support of the complainants before marching to the courthouse a few blocks away. ...

[Taipei Times] EDITORIAL: Picking off the Wild Strawberries

Enough has been said about the timing of Taipei City police in dispersing the tail of the Wild Strawberry Student Movement at Liberty Square on Thursday morning — only hours after Human Rights Day ended — so there is no need to dwell on the irony of it all.

What is of more concern here is the obliviousness of the police to their growing image as a partisan agency and the slapdash approach they use in determining when and how to enforce the law.

On Thursday, Zhongzheng First Precinct head Chen Ming-cheng (陳銘政) said that several complaints had been received about the protesters’ presence in the square. The offended parties were not identified, nor were the merits of the complaints canvassed. (more)

[The shocking irony the day after the Human Rights Day]

NB There are three very similar articles on this issues resulting from the urgent announcement back to Dec. 11st. Different people wrote about this that there are at least three versions in these days.

Less than twenty-four hours after the President Ma vowed to safeguard human rights and claimed that Taiwan enjoys the freest parades and assemblies around the world, at 3 am on December 11th, 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-hsueng?

Around 3 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 200 officers surrounded 40 students, who then staged an impromptu sit-in. Assistant Professor Lee Ming-tsung (of the National Taiwan University’s Department of Sociology) rushed to the square and negotiated with the police. 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. One student claimed up to the Strawberry Tower and confronted with the police. Around 5:20 a.m., the police dragged and carried 40-some students onto the transport wagons.

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]. As the police dispersed the exiled Tibetans, the officers pointed out that they were dissatisfied with Wild Strawberries' donations to the exiled Tibetans. 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). 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.

The Wild Strawberries condemn the enforcement of the unconstitutional Parade and Asssembly Law and the unfair treatment towards the exiled Tibetans. 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]. The exiled Tibetans did not resist police efforts while dispersed, only those who speak Chinese among them shouted out “Ma Ying-jeou - please save Tibet.” According to Article 29 of the “Police Enforcement Act,” the Wild Strawberries expressed objections as the police dispersed the protesters. The Wild Strawberries will file a formal complaint and demand a full police report of the dispersion this night citing Article 29 of the “Police Enforcement Act.”


Around 3 am, police officers and several police transport wagons arrived at Liberty Square. Now the police wagons prepared to remove the Wild Strawberries and the exiled Tibetans have increased to four. Tibetans of three police wagons have been forced away. Protesters in Liberty Square now need our support. Friends who can come here please do immediately!


Within one hour, all the exiled Tibetans have been forced ways by the police. Now more than 200 officers are surrounding 40 students, who then staging an impromptu sit-in. 2 to 3 journalists who have received the information are on the way to Liberty Square.


The police has started to carry the students onto the transport wagons. Some students are claiming up to the Strawberry Tower and confronting with the police. The situation is urgent.