Frank Hsieh: Jiang Yi-huah accountable for violence against protesters
Taiwan News, Staff Writer
2014-03-26 05:45 PM
Opposition legislators have been calling for the Director of the National Police Administration, Wang Chuo-chun, to step down to take responsibility for the violence that occurred during the eviction of student protesters from the Executive Yuan in the early hours of March 24.

In an interview prior to a meeting of the DPP Central Standing Committee Wednesday, however, former Premier Frank Hsieh disagreed, saying that the person who should shoulder the blame for the rough tactics used in Monday’s police action is Premier Jiang Yi-huah, who gave the initial go-ahead for riot police to move in.

Hsieh explained that it is important to keep in mind the principle of proportionality in allocating responsibility for the police action. He said the students had settled into a peaceful sit-in inside the Executive Yuan building, which was virtually empty of people when they occupied it. He added that the students were sitting quietly and would not have interfered with government business otherwise. He said people working in the area could cross the road and go to work with no problem.

Premier Jiang gave police administrators an ultimatum, however, saying that he wanted the protesting students removed from the building before it was time for work Monday morning. One officer is said to have remarked that if the students were not gone when it was time for people to start work he would be out of a job, and he felt uneasy about that.

Hsieh noted that today’s youth have a different image of police from his own generation. These students, he said, see the police as protectors who go after robbers, thieves and hooligans, and they had not expected to be removed in a violent physical confrontation. Now, said Hsieh, many feel their trust has been betrayed, and that is certain to have long-lasting effects in the future.

Hsieh said that when he went to the scene of the Executive Yuan occupation he had a gut feeling it would end in violence. He said there are conflicting opinions within the KMT on how to handle the student protest, and many blue politicians had been urging Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng to clear everyone out. Thus Jiang Yi-huah decided on his own to order the eviction of the students. Hsieh said the issuing of the eviction order was strictly an internal matter for the KMT.

Hsieh also recounted his own experience and solidarity with students at the Executive Yuan when the water cannon were brought in. He was hit in one volley and went down, and a reporter cried out, “Hey, Frank Hsieh was hit by the water cannon too!”

Hsieh said it was an entirely new experience for him, in the past there was no such thing as water cannon when protesters took to the streets. He called the dousing a potentially very dangerous experience, saying it left him feeling dizzy and disoriented. All of a sudden he was knocked over, he said, and when he recovered consciousness he discovered he was drenched in water.

Hsieh also found that his glasses had been blasted away by the spray of water. He joked that about a dozen supporters came up to him and offered him the use of their glasses, but he shrugged it off quipping, “What, do you expect me to go through this a dozen more times?” Eventually he located his own glasses but they had been damaged beyond use in the powerful jet of water.

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