Students injured in protest over Zhang visit

Students injured in protest over Zhang visit
Zhang, director of China's Taiwan Affairs Office, is on a four-day visit to the island in a further sign of warming ties between the once bitter rivals, despite vocal opposition from many Taiwanese suspicious of closer ties with Beijing.

TAIPEI, Taiwan - Several student activists were injured during a demonstration against the visit of China's Taiwan Affairs Office (TAO) Minister Zhang Zhijun (張志軍) outside of the Hanhsin Arena Shopping Plaza in Kaohsiung City yesterday.

After Zhang's arrival on Wednesday, demonstrators from different civic groups have been following Zhang around the nation to stage in protests against the TAO minister every day.

Shortly after a meeting with Kaohsiung Mayor Chen Chu (陳菊), as Zhang was about to leave the shopping mall around 9 a.m., National Sun Yat-sen University postgraduate student Chuang Cheng-yang (莊程洋) and several activists suddenly broke through a police cordon attempting to stop Zhang's vehicle.

While Chuang was expelled by police officers, he was seen blood all over his face. Chuang was later sent to a hospital for treatment and had over 10 stitches on the left side of his forehead, student activist Yen Ming-wei (顏銘瑋) said.

Yen said he threw a cup of sweet soup at Zhang's car when he and Chuang saw the vehicle was about the leave the mall this morning, noting that three to four police officers immediately rushed to him and Chuang at the same time broke through the police cordon.

Yen claimed that a police officer threw Chuang over his shoulder and then dragged him away from the scene. Yen added that another student protester surnamed Yang was also injured after Yang threw a bottle of water on Zhang's vehicle and was chased by police officers.

Police Deny Accusation

The Zouying Precinct of Kaohsiung Police Department yesterday afternoon released a press statement, saying that police officers only stopped Chuang with their bare hands and no one threw Chuang over his or her shoulder.

The precinct said after Chuang rushed in to stop the car, police officers immediately stopped him and had a physical altercation.

Noting that not just Chuang hurt his forehand by falling down to the ground, the precinct said a police officer also injured his own elbows and knees. The precinct went on to say that the police officers later assisted Chuang to stay away from the drive lane and took him to the hospital for medical treatment.

Kaohsiung to Look into Incident

The Kaohsiung City Government responded to the incident by saying that it will retrieve surveillance footage and probe the incident in depth.

Kaohsiung said the injured student (Chuang) was pulled away by police officers from the drive lane and hit the ground, which caused his injury. It said, however, that it has requested the National Police Agency (NPA) and Kaohsiung police not to "overly" enforce the law on citizens.

The Kaohsiung government, at the same time, said it is people's fundamental right to stage demonstrations, adding that, however, protesters should take a peaceful approach and respect a visitor's freedom and safety.

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