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Dapu activists plead not guilty
Taiwan News, Staff Writer
2014-05-27 04:45 PM
TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – Seven activists who campaigned on behalf of the families whose homes in Dapu, Miaoli County, were demolished to make way for a science park pleaded not guilty at the beginning of their trial Tuesday.

The seven who appeared at the Miaoli District Court for a preparatory meeting included Chen Wei-ting and Lin Fei-fan, two students who grew even more prominent this year by leading the March 18-April 10 occupation of the Legislative Yuan to protest against the trade-in-services pact with China.

The activists faced charges by the Miaoli District Prosecutors Office including obstruction of official duties, public humiliation and violations of the Assembly and Parade Act.

They argued that the Miaoli County Government was the first to use violence when it razed the four homes. The activists said they used eggs to express their opinions and had not had any intention of hurting anyone. Police officers raised placards with warnings against the protest on purpose four times in a row in order to be able to accuse them of violations of the Assembly and Parade Act, they said. The activists said they were defending justice and protecting themselves, so they were innocent, despite the misuse of indictments by prosecutors.

At issue were a protest last August 16 during which eggs were thrown at the Miaoli County Government building and officers were injured, scuffles with police during a September 14 protest against County Magistrate Liu Cheng-hung and a September 18 incident during which Chen threw a shoe which hit the politician’s head.

Prosecutors filed the charges against the protesters in February. The widow of Chang Sen-wen, the most prominent opponent of the demolitions and himself owner of a pharmacy which was destroyed, appeared at the courthouse Tuesday in a sign of support for the prosecuted activists.

Chang was found dead in an irrigation canal last September in what was widely seen as a suicide caused by a depression as a result of the expropriations and demolitions.

At the court hearing Tuesday, Chen said he had thrown the shoe at Liu because the county chief tried to enter the Chang home after the man’s death even though the family had said he was not welcome.

Lin defended his actions at protests by saying that following the Dapu case, people anywhere in Taiwan might face the unjust expropriation of their homes by the government at any time. Defense of the home owners should not be illegal, he argued.

The Dapu home owners said they supported the defendants because they had protested against the government’s violent behavior. They also demanded the rebuilding of the four homes at their original location, pointing out that even the candidate nominated by the ruling Kuomintang to succeed Liu, lawmaker Hsu Yao-chang, supported their idea.

Earlier this year, the Taichung High Administrative Court said the expropriation of the four homes by the Miaoli County Government and by the Ministry of Interior had been illegal.

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