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Arrest of reporters in ministry break-in legal: Taipei police

2015/07/28 20:08:56

The reporters arrested in anti-curriculum guidelines revision protest on July 24, CNA file photo

Taipei, July 28 (CNA) Taipei City Police Department said in an investigative report Tuesday that three reporters who were arrested in the early hours of July 24 were suspected of breaking into the Ministry of Education complex that night, along with a group of students protesters.

More than 200 people, mostly high school students, began a protest outside the Ministry of Education (MOE) on July 22 against a series of revisions to school textbooks, which activists and academics said were Sino-centric and were carried out with a lack of transparency.

The activists also said the MOE has ignored their requests for dialogue on the issue.

The protesters demanded that the government drop the revisions of the curriculum guidelines, which they argued were "presented from the perspective of Chinese unification."

Three reporters -- Liberty Times photographer Liao Chen-hui (廖振輝), Coolloud Collective reporter Sung Hsiao-hai (宋小海) and independent reporter Lin Yu-yu (林雨佑) -- were among 33 people who were taken into custody after students and other protesters broke into the MOE compound on the night of July 23.

The police said about 200 officers were sent to the scene and the people found at the minister of education's office were all detained.

Pictures posted online showed the reporters climbing ladders to get into the ministry compound and then taking notes and taking pictures of student intrusion, the police said.

The pictures also showed the three reporters along with protesters entering ministry buildings -- action that was a violation of the law because the reporters did not obtain permission to enter the premises, as required by law, according to police.

The Zhongzheng First Police Precinct said the media workers were detained to determine whether they were part to the protest, but the journalists said they were prevented from doing their work.

The local watchdog group Taiwan Media Watch on July 24 said the arrest of the three journalists was a "violation of press freedom."

The Association of Taiwan Journalists on July 24 also condemned the arrest of the journalists as a violation of press freedom.

It said it was opposed to the actions of the Taipei Police Department, which had passed the buck to the MOE and prosecutors after arresting the journalists, who had clearly identified themselves at the scene.

The association said it will assist the journalists if they want to take legal action.

Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je (柯文哲) said on July 24 he will ask the police to come up with guidelines to make clear the responsibilities of the municipal government and the National Police Agency during big protests.

(By Lin Chang-shun and Evelyn Kao)