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Police defend decision to prohibit Taipei protest on May 20

2012/04/27 18:01:25

Taipei, April 27 (CNA) A police official on Friday defended a decision to reject an application to hold a protest parade near the Presidential Office on May 20 after the decision was condemned by the applicant as a resumption of martial law.

National Police Agency Deputy Director-General Lin Kuo-tung explained at a meeting held by the opposition Taiwan Solidarity Union (TSU) legislative caucus that the TSU's proposed parade route overlapped with an area reserved for activities related to President Ma Ying-jeou's inauguration for a second term in office.

Lin said that the committee organizing the inauguration celebration activities filed for use of the area prior to the TSU and therefore had the right to it.

Prior to Lin's explanation, TSU Legislator Hsu Chung-hsin complained of the government's rejection of the application.

Hsu contended that the president needed to hear the people's voices on the day of his inauguration, especially on such issues as the administration's decisions to allow imports of U.S. beef containing residues of leanness-enhancing drugs, and to raise fuel and electricity prices.

"May 20 is the best time for people to loudly voice their protests," he said, calling the rejection of its plan a form of imposing martial law.

The lawmaker also denounced the move to close roads surrounding the Presidential Office for inauguration celebrations as "another way to deprive the people of their rights to organize assemblies and associations."

But Lin explained that the TSU's planned parade route overlapped the area already reserved by the committee organizing inauguration activities.

The committee filed for the use of an area encompassing the 228 Peace Park, Jieshou Park and the Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall, before the TSU did, he said, insisting that the TSU's application was rejected based on the law.

In the area blocked off for inauguration celebration activities, "normal traffic will not be restricted but no assemblies and parades are allowed," Lin said.

Also at the meeting, TSU Legislator Huang Wen-ling complained of deteriorating public order in Taipei, citing data showing that there were six shooting cases reported in the city in the past month.

Lin disagreed, citing statistics showing that the number of criminal cases involving gunmen declined to 52 countrywide in the first four months of the year, down by 10 compared with the same period of last year.

There were 28 shooting cases in the four-month period, one more than the same period last year, he said.

For the whole of 2011, the 186 criminal cases involving gunmen and the 93 shooting cases reported were both the lowest for the categories in any year in history, he said.

The National Police Agency has also cracked five of the six shooting cases that happened in Taipei in the past month, Lin said, adding that police are confident of cracking the sixth soon.

(By Justine Su and Elizabeth Hsu)