TAIPEI - Activists in support of residents of four razed households in Miaoli County's Dapu Village yesterday splashed water on Deputy Interior Minister Hsiao Chia-chi and demanded that Interior Minister Lee Hong-yuan come out to talk with them.
The incident happened yesterday morning as Hsiao spoke to protesters outside the Ministry of the Interior (MOI) on behalf of Lee. The protesters - numbering around 2,000 - had marched to the MOI on Sunday night at around 10 p.m. and occupied all the entrances to the building. The protesters remained on the site throughout the night and into the next day.
The rally was part of a larger demonstration in response to the razing a month ago of four Dapu Village households by the Miaoli County Government. The demolitions took place against the homeowners' wishes.
The Taiwan Rural Front (TRF), one of the rally organizers, said the demonstration outside the ministry was a protest against the MOI for authorizing unjust land expropriation projects, including those relating to the farmlands and households in Dapu. Given this, the TRF said, the demonstrators demanded that the MOI amend the Land Expropriation Act to better protect farmers' land rights.
Lee yesterday arrived at the MOI before 8 a.m. He cancelled all prior obligations and focused instead on holding meetings in regard to four demands that had been issued by protesters against the demolitions, according to the ministry.
At around 11 a.m. yesterday, Hsiao came out of the MOI under police escort and spoke on behalf of Lee to the protesters. Hsiao said the Land Expropriation Act involves "technical problems" which means the MOI must discuss the matter with other relevant departments.
As he was speaking, Hsiao was splashed with water and forced to leave. The crowd demanded to speak to "a higher ranking official," in reference to Lee.
In light of the controversial demolitions, nearly 20,000 protesters gathered on Ketagalan Boulevard in front of the Presidential Office on Sunday, demanding amendments to the Land Expropriation Act to ensure better protection of farmers' rights as well as justice.
The rallies on Sunday, including both the one at Ketagalan Boulevard and the one at the MOI, were organised by the TRF, Taiwan Farmers' Union (TFU), and the Dapu Solidarity Association (DSA) - three Taiwanese farmers' rights nonprofit organisations.
The TRF said protesters have issued four demands to the central government: that it apologise to the four Dapu households, return land ownership to the concerned households, investigate the Miaoli County Government regarding the controversial demolitions, and amend the Land Expropriation Act in the upcoming Legislative session.
The Miaoli government has said that the demolitions were for an urban development project that would lead to the construction of a science park. The demolition of the four households occurred while the owners of the houses and their supporters were protesting in Taipei.
Activists Sue Miaoli Magistrate
Thomas Chan, an activist, yesterday went to the Supreme Prosecutors Office and pressed charges against Miaoli Magistrate Liu Cheng-hung over the Dapu demolitions.
Chan alleged that there had been breaches of the Anti-Corruption Act as well as violations of property laws relating to the keeping of assets of unknown origin.
Activists Replace National Flag in Legislature
Protesters on Sunday midnight entered the Legislative Yuan and replaced the national flag that hangs in front of the entrance with flags that stated "demolish the government," and "against nuclear power."
Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng said the incident is inappropriate and unfair to the Legislative Yuan. Wang added that he hopes this kind of incident will not happen again.