DPP Conference on Police Intimidation at the National Taiwan University of Arts

On April 11, the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Youth Development Director Chang Chi-Chang and Assistant Director Chou Yu-Hsiu held a press conference on a recent incidence that occurred on the campus of National Taiwan University of Arts (NTUA). Presenting photographic evidence, they revealed numerous police vans and baton-wielding police officers descending upon the university’s campus in large numbers, allegedly with the consent of the university's administration, in an attempt to intimidate student demonstrators.

Chang Chi-Chang expressed that since the Sunflower Movement announced the end of its occupation of the Legislative Yuan, several controversial incidents have occurred on the university campus. In these cases, school authorities threatened to punish students who participated in the demonstrations. Another controversial incident happened on April 7. After dedicating 3 days to create a sunflower sculpture and walking over 4 hours to deliver it to the Legislative Yuan, the students were stunned that the school had allowed the police onto the campus while they were away. This not only exemplifies intimidation, but also violates the school’s autonomy.

Chou Yu-Hsiu, an NTUA alumnus, recounted how he actively participated in social issues while attending NTUA as a student there. As the oldest art academy in the country, the school was known to prioritize student involvement in social issues along with their involvement in art. However, Chou became disappointed with the school’s contradiction in allowing the recent incident to occur while apparently celebrating academic freedom and artistic expression at the same time. Citing an incident that occurred on April 6, 1949 in which then National Taiwan University President Fu Ssu-Nien challenged then Reserve Command General Peng Meng-Ci to a showdown should General Peng cause any of his students to bleed in the KMT’s crackdown on political dissent, Chou questioned whether NTUA President Yung-Chen Hsieh would just passively sit in a nice air conditioned room while the police harmed his students.

During the press conference, NTUA students who witnessed the incident provided accounts via the internet. According to these accounts, the intimidation brought on by the presence of baton-wielding police officers discouraged students from gathering for demonstrations. The officers later headed towards the Department of Sculpture. With grim smiles, the students recounted how the police claimed to direct traffic while used digital video recorders to collect information on participants instead. Chou Yu-Hsiu passionately argued that if President Hsieh failed to notice the police presence on campus, then he lacked the capability to be an administrative chief. If the police informed him and yet he still approved the action, then he lacks the qualification to be president. Either way, he should be removed from his post. Feeling ashamed of being an NTUA alumnus, Chou called on President Hsieh to explain the situation.

Director Chang Chi-Chang requested Jiang Wei-Ning of the Minister of Education to explain whether or not he pressured the school. The Ministry of Education clearly stated back on February 23, 2013 that police cannot enter onto a school campus without the consent of that school’s administrators while conducting criminal investigation cases. The massive police presence in light of a simple and non-violent demonstration amounted to overkill. Questions have been called whether Chief Wang Cho-Chun of the National Police Agent is justified in taking such drastic actions against the students after cracking down on the student demonstrations during the night of March 23. Chang demanded that Minister Jiang explain why such an absurd response happened on a university campus.