Taiwanese officials today turned back a dissident who tried to end his self-imposed exile by flying to the island from Manila.
The dissident, 45-year-old Hsu Hsin-liang, told reporters in Manila that Taiwan police did not allow him out of the airport and immediately put him back on a flight to the Philippines.
"A group of secret police stood around me," Hsu said.
Although he has been charged with sedition in Taiwan in connection with a 1979 anti-government riot, he was not arrested--apparently out of concern his arrest would cause disturbances.
About 1,000 dissidents tried to reach the airport in Taiwan to greet Hsu, but police stopped them less than a mile from the airport building and sprayed them with water when they ignored orders to disperse, witnesses said.
The crowd retaliated by tossing stones but finally left at the urging of Hsu's brother, Hsu Kuo-tai. There were no reports of injuries.
Hsu, who has lived in the United States since leaving Taiwan in 1979, tried to fly to Taiwan on Sunday from Tokyo, accompanied by 12 other dissidents and foreign supporters, including former U.S. Atty. Gen. Ramsey Clark. However, Cathay Pacific Airways prevented the group from boarding their flight because they lacked visas for Taiwan.
Hsu said he wanted to return to Taiwan to "help awaken the people to fight for democracy" and to support opposition candidates in an election Saturday for seats in the Legislative Yuan and the National Assembly, Taiwan's electoral college.
Saturday's elections will be the first in which opposition candidates have run as a party since the governing Nationalists fled to Taiwan from mainland China after being defeated by the Communists there in 1949.
Hsu said he planned to fly to Tokyo on Wednesday and "see if there is any possibility" of returning to Taiwan.