Hau reminds Red Shirts to ‘abide by rules’

The China Post news staff

TAIPEI, Taiwan — Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-bin yesterday urged the “Red Shirts” to abide by the rules during their three-day anti-corruption demonstrations starting today, expressing the hope that the rallies will proceed peacefully.

Addressing concerns that the Red Shirts’ demonstrations may not end as scheduled at 5 p.m. for Monday and Tuesday to avoid jamming rush-hour traffic, Hau said the activists must wrap up their rallies on Ketagalan Boulevard as planned. He said people have the right to organize assemblies and marches under the Constitution, but organizers and participants must strictly follow the rules, including the times set for the beginning and ending the rallies, he said. He said he hopes the rally will proceed in a peaceful, rational and non-violent manner, and any violations against this principle will be punished.

But Hau, who last year joined the Red Shirts as a civilian in demanding President Chen Shui-bian’s resignation over alleged corruption, said he will not take part in their rallies this year. “As mayor of the capital city, I have no plan to attend the anti-graft protesters’ gathering tomorrow,” said Hau, who was elected mayor of the city towards the end of last year.

But he said he would meet with Red Shirts leader Shih Ming-teh, later yesterday to discuss issues concerning the upcoming rallies. The Red Shirts are returning to the boulevard to mark the anniversary of the massive campaign they launched last year to depose Chen. The anti-Chen activists held a month-long sit-in around the clock on the boulevard near the Presidential Office. They wrapped up their campaign by organizing a march by hundreds of thousands of people in the neighborhood of the Presidential Office during National Day celebrations on Oct. 10. The Red Shirts have obtained permission from Taipei City police authorities to hold rallies Sept. 9-11 on Ketagalan Boulevard.

Each rally is scheduled to take place between 10:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m, except for Sept. 9 when the rally will be allowed end at 10 p.m.