A Vietnamese man has left for Taiwan to work with authorities after the death of his son, a guest worker who was shot dead by police on the island late last month.
The father, whose name has not been disclosed for legal reasons, was expected to arrive in the island late Tuesday to get a full explanation for his son’s death.
His son, Nguyen Quoc Phi, 27-year-old Vietnamese overseas contract worker in Taiwan, was shot dead on August 31.
The Vietnamese was caught stealing a motorbike and the belongings from a truck in the Taiwanese city of Hsinchu at 10:40 am that day, according to local police.
When two Hsinchu officers were dispatched to the scene, Phi started throwing rocks at them, prompting them to use a stick and pepper spray to neutralize him.
After being pepper-sprayed in the face, Phi jumped into a river to wash his face and continued throwing rocks and bricks at the policemen. One of the policemen was hurt.
As Phi continued to jump into the driver seat of the police car, the officers took out their guns and shot nine bullets at the Vietnamese citizen, with six bullets hitting their target.
Phi was immediately brought to a local hospital, but was pronounced dead at noon the same day, according to official documents from Vietnam’s Economic Cultural Office in Taipei.
Tran Duy Hai, a representative at Vietnam’s Economic Cultural Office in Taipei, told Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper on the phone that Phi had a six-year contract to work in Taiwan, but he had been staying illegally on the island for the last three years.
Hai added that when the police came, Phi wasn’t wearing any clothes and fought back by throwing rocks.
“There is a possibility that Phi might have used a stimulant,” Hai said.
“However, all of this is just estimation. We will have to wait for the police investigation outcome and autopsy results to know for sure.”
The death of Phi has sparked rage among Vietnamese labor workers in Taiwan. More than 100 of them, along with the International Workers Association in Taiwan, took their anger to the streets in a protest on Monday. The protesters gathered in front of the island’s national police agency with banners.
Protesters demanded an investigation and the release of the recorded video showing how policemen shot down the 27-year-old Vietnamese, according to Taiwan’s Central News Agency.
Nguyen Duy Thong, a 25-year-old Vietnamese worker in Taiwan who joined the protest, told Taipei Times that many workers had to run away because they were unable to pay off the brokerage fees, which usually vary between US$6,500 to $7,000.
Taipei Times also quoted another Vietnamese guest worker, Nguyen Viet Ca, as saying that foreign workers are usually stopped to have their paperwork examined. Phi’s case may be the result of discrimination against foreigners, Ca told the newspaper.
Given the fact that police shot nine bullets at an unarmed man, many are worried about the police department’s discriminative attitude.
Even if he ran away, he still did not have any weapons with him. Considering the fact that the policemen were fully armed, Phi couldn’t have been a threat to them, Ca said.
Meanwhile, Focus Taiwan quoted Yibee Huang, chief director of a human rights protection organization, Covenants Watch, as wondering whether the police would have handled the case in the same way if the exact same scenario involved a Taiwanese citizen or a white person.