Translated and compiled by Bing-sheng Lee
Taiwan’s new government, having dropped charges against Sunflower Movement activists, should now investigate the alleged use of excessive force during the 2014 protests, reform advocates say.
Tung Chen-yuan, spokesperson for the Executive Yuan, today announced that Premier Lin Chuan has decided to withdraw the government’s criminal charges against 126 Sunflower Movement protesters after an extensive discussion with President Tsai Ing-wen.
The Judicial Reform Foundation says while it applauds the retraction of the charges, the government should now immediately name the police who used excessive violence against protesters on March 23 and the morning of March 24, 2014. The group also wants officials who permitted actions against the protestors to be held to account.
New Power Party legislator Hsu Yung-ming says the decision made by Premier Lin is a positive development. He also cautions that many details about the event have not been fully explained. Further investigation is needed to find out the truth, Hsu adds.
Lin Fei-fan, one of the main leaders of the Sunflower Movement, says he appreciates Premier Lin’s withdrawal of the charges. He says that the move ends the intimidation by then-Premier Chiang Yi-hua of former president Ma Ying-jeou’s administration against social activists via the judiciary system. He hopes the new government can act on the demands of the movement and says the activists will continue to respect the judicial system.
The Sunflower Movement was initiated by a coalition of student and civic groups. It took place from March 18 to April 10, 2014, and included an occupation of the Legislative Yuan and the Executive Yuan in Taipei. The protesters opposed the passing of the Cross-Strait Service Trade Agreement by the then ruling party Kuomintang. Wei Yang, one of the leaders of the protesters, and more than 100 demonstrators entered the Executive Yuan on March 23, 2014. They were evicted by riot police early the next morning.
The Ma administration filed criminal charges against the protesters. The charges included illegally entering a government building, larceny, obstructing governmental operation and property damage.
According to reports, the Legal Affairs Committee of the Executive Yuan on May 20 approved committee director Liu Wen-shih to drop the legal action against the protestors. Lin officially took office on May 20.
Tung paraphrases Lin as saying the charges filed by the former administration involved political considerations, which is no longer appropriate because what the Sunflower Movement appealed to has become the social consensus.
Lin also says the legislature should develop a legal framework for cross-strait agreements to highlight the contributions of the movement.
Given its political implications and influences, the movement should not be simply treated as a legal issue and should be handled with more tolerance and reconciliation, according to Lin.
Tung says the withdrawal of the charges was the first political decision made by the new administration. It was also the second official document signed by Lin on his first day as Premier.
Edited by Edward White