TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – A Taipei District Court judge threw out a NT$300 fine for a Falun Gong activist because it affected the public’s freedom of expression, reports said Monday.
Judge Lin Meng-huang criticized China’s restrictions on free speech in his verdict and wrote that Taiwan’s government should take the guarantee of human rights as its basic principle, the Chinese-language Liberty Times said.
Taipei City Police gave Hsu Poh-kun the fine for “hampering traffic” while standing outside Taipei 101 with a placard showing the Chinese communist regime’s mistreatment of Falun Gong followers, the paper said. The former tallest building in the world is popular with tour groups from China.
Hsu, an interior decorator, was the first person in Taiwan to be fined for Falun Gong activities, while Lin also made legal history by criticizing China’ human rights policies in his verdict, the paper said.
The judge ruled that Hsu was using a peaceful and rational method to express his opinions to Chinese tourists and was not causing traffic problems. The Falun Gong member’s right to free expression should be protected by the Constitution, Lin reportedly ruled. The judge also said that it was acceptable for Hsu to choose Taipei 101 because otherwise he might not be able to find Chinese tourists to talk to.
Hsu said he was not provoking the visitors from China, but only trying to inform them about the unfair treatment of the Falun Gong by their communist government. He said that when he was fined, last December 4, he was not following anyone and not shouting at anyone, but just holding up a placard.
Police at the Xinyi Precinct said they fined Hsu because a member of the public informed them he was causing traffic problems. They would study the text of the verdict before deciding whether to file an appeal, the Liberty Times reported.