Thursday, March 27, 2014

324: Police brutality or commensurate response?

Police action on the night of March 23 to 24 to expel protesters from the Executive Yuan was marred by several acts that were not proportionate to the threat

Much mystery and disinformation continues to surround the events of the night of March 23 to 24 in and around the Executive Yuan in Taipei, which hours earlier was occupied by thousands of protesters angry at the government’s handling of a controversial trade pact with China. While the unprecedented move, which occurred five days after the occupation of the nearby Legislative Yuan, represented a major escalation, several questions have been raised about the police response to the act. Was the crackdown justified, or did law enforcement authorities go too far?

Depending on the source one turns to for information, police action to expel the protesters spanned the entire spectrum, from the irenic to the genocidal. In the days following the incident, the highly polarized media in Taiwan made it difficult to clearly assess the situation, though photographic and video evidence has since trickled out, as have eyewitness accounts.

Based on the evidence released to date, as well as this writer’s observations at the site of the clashes, we can exclude, with a certain degree of confidence, the more extreme accounts of what happened. The response was neither velvet gloved, as argued by Premier Jiang Yi-huah, nor was it a second 228 Massacre, as green-leaning media have hyperbolically described it. As it usually does, the “truth” lies somewhere in between.

My article, published today at the China Policy Institute Blog, University of Nottingham, continues here. (Photo by the author)

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