Wu play­ing di­vide & con­quer: stu­dents

Min­is­ter’s of­fer to drop charges is sub­ver­sive, claim protesters

The China Post - - FRONT PAGE -

Stu­dents oc­cu­py­ing the Ed­u­ca­tion Min­istry yesterday re­jected Ed­u­ca­tion Min­is­ter Wu Se-hwa’s of­fer of a con­di­tional so­lu­tion to the crim­i­nal charges against some of them, say­ing it is an at­tempt to di­vide the protesters.

Ten­sions eased a bit as po­lice re­moved barbed-wire bar­ri­cades from the min­istry head­quar­ters as the oc­cu­pa­tion en­tered its sec­ond day, fol­low­ing an agree­ment be­tween both sides to pre­vent vi­o­lent clashes.

But more than 100 stu­dents and their sup­port­ers con­tin­ued to stage a sit-down protest in the square in front of the min­istry’s main build­ing, de­mand­ing that Wu step down, re­tract the con­tro­ver­sial re­vi­sions to the high school history cur­ricu­lum guide­lines and drop charges against the stu­dents ar­rested on July 23.

The protesters re­mained skep­ti­cal about Wu’s sin­cer­ity de­spite his latest claims that it has been his min­istry’s goal to not pur­sue charges against the ar­rested stu­dents.

But he qual­i­fied his re­marks by say­ing that the min­istry would be ready to drop charges against stu­dents un­der 18 years of age, and for stu­dents who are 18 years and older, pro­vided they ad­mit­ted they had “mis­be­haved.”

“This is the ed­u­ca­tion min­is­ter’s usual trick to di­vide us,” said Liao Chung-lun, one of the stu­dent protesters, in ref­er­ence to Wu’s of­fer. “We will not ac­cept it and will con­tinue to show sol­i­dar­ity.”

The Ed­u­ca­tion Min­istry is try­ing to make those un­der 18 give up the protest, Liao claimed.

In re­sponse to ru­mors that pro-gov­ern­ment gang­sters might show up to con­front them, Liao said the stu­dents hope the protest site can re­main a place for ra­tio­nal com­mu­ni­ca­tion.

He called on all protesters to re­main calm and peace­ful if they are pro­voked.

Liao also dis­missed re­ports that they were mount­ing a cam­paign call­ing for na­tion­wide protests by stu­dents against the re­vised cur­ricu­lum guide­lines. He stressed that the min­istry head­quar­ters re­main the ma­jor “bat­tle­field.”

Wu, who had had a brief and in­con­clu­sive meet­ing with stu­dent lead­ers Fri­day, said he would con­tinue to seek com­mu­ni­ca­tion with the protesters.

He said re­mov­ing the bar­ri­cades from the protest site was a demon­stra­tion of the Ed­u­ca­tion Min­istry’s “sin­cer­ity” in seek­ing com­mu­ni­ca­tion. He also urged stu­dents to pay at­ten­tion to their own safety.

The po­lice precinct chief han­dling the protest sit­u­a­tion said the bar­ri­cades were meant for “de­fen­sive” use, but they were no longer needed now.

The Ed­u­ca­tion Min­istry has shown signs of back­ing down af­ter a stu­dent leader com­mit­ted sui­cide Thurs­day in protest of the re­vised guide­lines.

Lead­ing law­mak­ers have also be­gun dis­cus­sions on whether an ex­tra­or­di­nary ses­sion should be called to help bring an end to the protests.

The stu­dent protesters have al­ready mounted a cam­paign to urge can­di­dates in the up­com­ing leg­isla­tive elec­tions to sup­port hav­ing the re­vised guide­lines re­tracted if they are elected.

The stu­dents said they have man­aged to come into con­tact with 147 of the 190 can­di­dates that have de­clared their bids, and 96 hope­fuls, or 65 per­cent, have signed up to sup­port their cause, 31 per­cent de­clined to state their po­si­tions and only 4 per­cent re­fused to sup­port them.

Most of the sup­port­ing can­di­dates are from the Demo­cratic Pro­gres­sive Party and other op­po­si­tion par­ties. In­cum­bent Leg­is­la­tor Yang Chi­ung-ying, run­ning for re-elec­tion, is the only can­di­date from the rul­ing Kuom­intang to have pledged sup­port, the stu­dents said.

Mean­while, the Ed­u­ca­tion Min­istry’s web­site crashed af­ter be­ing hacked. A group call­ing it­self the “Anony­mous Asia” claimed it was be­hind the at­tack in sup­port of the stu­dents, say­ing it was just the be­gin­ning.

The min­istry’s web­site crashed in the morn­ing but could be ac­cessed late in the af­ter­noon.

CNA

A pro­tester takes a rest in the park­ing lot of the Min­istry of Ed­u­ca­tion in Taipei, yesterday. Protesters con­tinue to gather out­side the Ed­u­ca­tion Min­istry, call­ing for the can­cel­la­tion of the newly en­forced high school history cur­ricu­lum guide­lines and the res­ig­na­tion of Ed­u­ca­tion Min­is­ter Wu Se-hwa.

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