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Human Rights & Social Issues

Taiwan: Sunflower movement demonstrators face persecution


Police Fence at Sunflower DemonstrationIn addition to retaliation from the police (and possibly from the judiciary), persecution and character assassination of those associated with protests has taken on many forms.

Those following our fan page and recent events in Taiwan will no doubt be aware of the abuse of power by police.

The arrest, interrogation and subsequent release of Hung Chung-yen (洪崇晏) yesterday was only one particularly high profile incident out of many, and the charges brought up against him were related to yet another protest on April 11 against police brutality, when the police forcibly evicted supporters of the Alliance for Referendum of Taiwan (公投盟) from their legally approved protest site outside the Legislative Yuan.

Yet persecution can sometimes take on forms that don’t involve the police at all. An earlier report by officials made at the Interior Ministry said that the Executive Yuan would sue student protestors for damages incurred during their occupation on March 23 and 24, totalling at least NT$3 million (approx. US$100,000). However, in a press conference earlier today (6), legislators from the Taiwan Solidarity Union (台灣團結聯盟) pointed out that according to a detailed listing of all so-called “damages” presented by the Executive Yuan itself, the sum was only NT$1.16 million (approx US$38,500).

Furthermore, according to legislator Chou Ni-an (周倪安), the items on the list included suspicious entries such as “the total loss of all maintenance equipment in the electrical supplies room”, costing some NT$140,000 (approx. US$4,600), and a cleaning bill of NT$5,200 (approx. US$172) for the “chair covers and bedsheets” in the office of former minister-without-portfolio Chen Shi-Shuenn (陳希舜). It is unclear how many items this cleaning bill covers; however, as mentioned in the Apple Daily report linked below, a cursory survey of online cleaning companies shows that the most one can expect to pay for one set of bedsheets is NT$250 (approx. US$8.30).

Of course, such ballooning of official estimates in damages is nothing new. A report in China Times (http://www.chinatimes.com/newspapers/20140320000414-260102) on March 20, a mere two days after the occupation of the legislature started, gained widespread notoriety with its claims that the occupation has cost more than NT$100 million (approx. US$3.32 million); however, a survey of the legislature conducted after April 8 by volunteer carpenters and interior designers (seehttp://www.appledaily.com.tw/realtimenews/article/politics/20140415/379474) concluded that repairs would not exceed NT3.5 million (approx. US$116,000), and the final official report from the Legislative Yuan (seehttps://www.facebook.com/fixlegislature/photos/a.695192100519118.1073741828.695176340520694/700080186696976/) definitively put the tally at NT$2.85 million (approx. US$95,000).

This is not the only kind of character assassination that people associated with the protest have faced. During the police action against protestors at the Executive Yuan on March 23, dentist Wang Hsin-kai (王心愷) was brutally beaten by police for no apparent reason as he passed by the protest site, and collapsed with his body in serious convulsion (video:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QZdGsr_Odq8).

A report on United Daily News the next day mistook this as an epileptic seizure, and this report was later cited in an (possibly fabricated) anonymous complaint to the New Taipei City Public Health Department, saying that legal regulations forbid anyone with a mental illness from holding a license to practice medicine, and as an epileptic Wang should have his license revoked. This prompted Wang to hold a press conference (http://newtalk.tw/news/2014/04/24/46619.html) to state that he does not suffer from epilepsy; moreover, at the press conference DPP legislator Chen Chi-mai (陳其邁) strongly criticized the government for using a falsified news report as the basis for investigation.

While on the subject of police brutality at the Executive Yuan incident, the aforementioned TSU legislator Chou Ni-an was also a victim of savage police beating on that day (seehttp://www.nownews.com/n/2014/03/24/1162510). The TSU’s policy is to rotate legislators on the party list, to help more of their members gain experience in politics; Chou had barely taken office for a month when the Executive Yuan incident occurred.

Source: Sunflower Movement Blog
 
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