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Police under fire for handling of student protests
Taiwan News, Staff Writer
2014-03-26 05:02 PM
TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – National Police Agency Director-General Wang Cho-chiun came under fire Wednesday for the forceful evacuation of student protesters from the Executive Yuan earlier in the week.

Students began occupying the Legislative Yuan March 18 in the evening after the Kuomintang caucus cut short a promised clause-by-clause review of the trade-in-services pact with China. On Sunday evening, a smaller group of protesters also took control of the Executive Yuan, but they were dislodged the next morning by riot police using water cannons.

The incidents provoked accusations of police brutality at a legislative committee session Wednesday. Wang said the necessary responsibility would be shouldered, but denied that President Ma Ying-jeou and Premier Jiang Yi-huah had reacted furiously to the police failure to stop protesters from entering the Cabinet offices and that he was about to be sacked.

The police chief emphasized that it was his responsibility to maintain social order and to protect the functioning of government in the face of the attempted occupation of the Executive Yuan.

He expressed regret that 55 members of the public and 119 officers were injured in the process. The 36 people arrested during the incident were 18 students and 18 social activists, he said.

The national police chief promised the completion within five days of an investigation into which officers had beaten up a lawmaker. He denied reports that police officers clubbed protesters, but the Chinese-language Apple Daily published pictures on its web site which alleged the opposite.

Wang compared the situation to clashes after the 2004 presidential election, when as Taipei City police chief he ordered Ketagalan Boulevard to be cleared of protesters and later received an award for it from then-Premier Yu Shyi-kun.

Interior Minister Chen Wei-zen, who appeared with Wang at the Legislative Yuan to present a report about the clashes during the students’ occupation, described the invasion of the Executive Yuan by 5,000 protesters as a grave incident involving the destruction of property, theft and damage to a listed building. When peaceful police efforts failed to dislodge the occupiers, it was only natural that force would be used, according to Chen.

The minister added there was a need to reflect on the fact that the 200 officers inside the Executive Yuan failed to react on time to the sudden influx of protesters.

An official of the country’s top intelligence agency, the National Security Bureau, reportedly said Wednesday that there were already reports on the morning of March 21 that an occupation of the Executive Yuan was imminent, but the bureau later denied that the information had been so precise.

The violence at the Executive Yuan also provoked an opposition Democratic Progressive Party boycott at the Taipei City Council of question-and-answer sessions with Mayor Hau Lung-bin. After the mayor said he stood by the actions of the police force, opposition councilors demanded an apology.

As DPP members occupied the podium, Hau was forced to cancel the presentation of his policy report for the first time since being elected in 2006, reports said.

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