A mass rally numbered in the tens of thousands turned out in Taipei, Taiwan protests over a young army conscript who died after being punished for breaking military base rules.
A major-general and 18 other officers have been charged in the case of Hung Chung-chu, a 24-year-old corporal who was just three days away from finishing his military service.
The defence minister has also turned in his resignation.
Hung’s infraction was for bringing a mobile phone with a built-in camera onto the military base. He was first held in solitary confinement and then made to do punishment exercises in the hot sun. He died of organ failure brought on by a heatstroke.
The public has expressed outrage over the death, damaging the perception of the army at a time when it is struggling to find enough volunteers in an effort to phase out conscription, according to the BBC’s Charles Scanlon.
Taiwanese President Ma Yin-Jeou has already apologised publicly and promised justice for Hung’s family.
But many of the protesters in the streets of Taipei said they were not convinced of the sincerity of the investigation into the case. Taiwan protests most of them were dressed in white to symbolise truth.
Protester Jenny Tan told AFP news agency, “”I am mourning for Hung Chung-chiu and I want the truth. I hope there won’t be any more abuse and death like his in the military.”
Meanwhile Taiwan protests, more families have come forward to demand justice for their sons who died during military service.
The situation presents a crisis of confidence for the Taiwanese army of over 200,000 as it attempts to maintain the credibility of its defensive stance against the threat of an invasion from mainland China, an analyst says.
Although the army plans to move to an all-volunteer force, at present all Taiwanese men from the ages of 18 to 36 are required to fulfill one year’s military service.
Corporal Hung Chung-chu’s funeral is scheduled for Sunday. Image/BBC