• Thu
  • Dec 25, 2014
  • Updated: 3:46am

More than 150 injured as police evict student protesters from Taiwan parliament

PUBLISHED : Monday, 24 March, 2014, 5:02am
UPDATED : Monday, 24 March, 2014, 4:07pm

More than 150 people were injured and 61 students arrested after riot police armed with batons and water cannon waded in to break up a protest over a trade pact with China at Taiwan's parliament in the early hours of Monday.

Seven waves of police brandishing riot shields marched towards students forcing them away from the courtyard of the Executive Yuan building, which demonstrators had broken into hours earler, after President Ma Ying-jeou failed to soothe public anger at his administration's handling of the free-trade pact with the mainland.

Demonstrators chanting "No more police brutality" and "Police back off" laid down and linked arms and legs in an effort to halt the eviction from the cabinet compound, while others lashed out at police before being beaten back with batons and, as dawn broke, water cannon.

Defiant students, some bleeding and bruised, pledged to continue their protest over the ruling party's decision to renege on a promised line-by-line review of the trade agreement.

"How could they treat us like a rioter? We are just plain students," said a soaking wet and weeping Huang Pei-feng, a sophomore of National Taiwan University, who was among those who faced the water canon.

"This won't stop us. We will continue our protest until [president] Ma Ying-jeou scraps the trade service pact," said Alex Chen, a student of National Chengkung University, after he was dragged to the ground during the dispersal.

Premier Jiang Yi-huah, whose office is in the Executive Yuan building, said earlier that at least 110 people were injured, including 52 police officers, while 61 arrests were made. Associated Press put the number of students injured at 137.

The occupation of the Cabinet offices on Sunday marked a sharp escalation in tactics by a mostly student-led protest movement that now appears to be showing signs of a split between anti-government militants and a main group seeking dialogue with President Ma Ying-jeou on the China trade pact.

Watch: Taiwan riot police dislodge protesters to retake government HQ

China’s government has not commented on the protests, although an editorial Monday in the Global Times was harshly critical.

“The Taiwanese students lack the courage and determination to commit to regional economic integration, fear losing out and change and only wish to defend the status quo,” the editorial read.

Tensions first exploded into the open six days ago when around 200 demonstrators, mostly young students, broke through security barriers and took over parliament’s main chamber, the first such occupation of the building in the island’s history.

President Ma Ying-jeou denounced the “illegal” occupation of  parliament by students opposed to the trade agreement’s ratification.

Political protests in Taiwan are common, but violent confrontations relatively rare, reflecting the high level of civil discourse resulting from the transition from one-party dictatorship to robust democracy in the mid-1990s

Watch: Protesters occupy Taiwan's parliament issue ultimatum

In his first press conference since the occupation began, Ma on Sunday called on the protesters to leave the chamber. He said the pact was vital to Taiwan's economy and he condemned the occupation as illegal.

The agreement would open up as many as 80 services industries, including banking, hospitals and e-commerce companies to markets and competition.

"I perfectly understand the students' concern about national affairs," Ma said. "But they should never have resorted to illegal means."

Ma cancelled all public activities scheduled for Monday and will meet senior officials to assess the impact of the protest.

A Jiang spokesman said: "Such a violation of law is unacceptable and for this the premier has ordered that the National Police Administration increase the police force to dispel them."

Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-bin also asked Taipei police to restore order. Police authorities were reported to have mobilised 3,000 officers, and riot police began to remove demonstrators after midnight. At least 20 students were detained.

While political protests in Taiwan are common, violent confrontations between demonstrators and police are relatively rare, reflecting the high level of civil discourse that has taken hold of Taiwanese society since the island completed an impressive transition from one-party dictatorship to robust democracy in the mid-1990s.


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This article is now closed to comments

Taiwan - once the leading tiger two decades ago with the highest foreign reserves - have stagnated and fallen far behind its Asian neighbours under ChenSuibian's leadership of isolating China.
The trade pact clearly benefits Taiwan more, but the opposition has successfully twisted the facts and students are ready to swallow it, using it as an excuse to vent anti mainland sentiments.Taiwan cannot afford to ignore China's economic presence, politics asides. It has paid dearly the past two decades, and will continue to do so if nothing is done.
Ma is right, is this democracy? Like in Thailand, the opposition is tryng to create mayhem and disorder to seize power through street riots and unlawful occupation of government offices.
Come summer, the same scenes will be enacted this side of China.
Watched the event live yesterday in Taipei. The police were very professional in handling the situation. Only using necessary force after giving the demonstrators more than enough warnings to leave the area. Even when they forcibly remove the ones laying down, they gave them a last chance to move away by patting them and asking them to leave before using force to remove them. What the demonstrators (students AND DPP members) did were simply illegal and not what democracy is all about. People elected these legislators to pass laws for them in the parliament. If they are not doing a good job then elect someone else during the next elections! If such actions persists than Taiwan is really no different than Thailand, where the minority in the government chooses to use demonstrations and riots to disrupt the government. The KMT government has shown restraint in trying to resolve the matter peacefully when the students illegally occupied the parliament. They crossed the line further when they decide to occupy the government HQ.
Ah "Democracy" !
And this what stupid Hong Kong Pan-Democrats are calling for here in order to wreck the place, with their overseas financial and moral supporters hoping the ensuing chaos will also spread to the Mainland.
We will never be ready for their idea of democracy because it simply doesn't work. Repeatedly we witness ,worldwide, that losers in elections can seldom accept that they have lost.
China, please never give in to these ignorant buffoons.
The passionate, yet exploited, youths care for their country. But not by the way of shutting down the government. For the people who are supportive of the protest, please count the number of mobile devices, PCs/Laptops, TVs, and other appliances in your households and calculate the percentage of items that are Taiwanese brand. Taiwan businesses do not have the capital reserves as some of its neighboring countries do and these businesses need all the support they can get from Taiwan's 23M population, which is half that of South Korea, one-sixth that of Japan, and a fraction comparing to that of mainland China. Taiwan companies struggles to gain success overseas, strategies aside, because such ventures are capital intensive.
The trade agreement does not prevent Taiwan from growing its businesses in the Americas, Europe, ASEAN, and other markets. If Taiwan's citizens are concerned with economic reliance on China and other consequences, then support Taiwan's businesses so they may grow overseas, innovate, and gain more leverage. HTC has 35.4% market share of the smartphone market in its own turf and the company is ailing. Be concerned with that.
Taiwan's past leadership squandered two decades of opportunities and its competitive advantage is eroding. Politics and policies aside, the people need to learn from it. The Asian Tigers are a term of the past. Some of these tigers have propelled themselves to the next phase of development. Taiwan needs to do the same.
How did the students get into the legislative council in the first place if they did not use violence?
"The pact is awaiting ratification by Taiwan's legislature."
If the govt was not democratic like u said, how come the pact is awaiting ratificaton by the legislature?
U are confused, dai. Or maybe, , u are trying hard to confuse all of us.
If the public do not like any policy of the KMT then it is up to them to vote the KMT out of office in the next election. This is democracy. But to occupy the legislative assembly in order to prevent the law going through is the act of rascals.
It's too bad that it has come to this, but these students have only themselves to blame for taking such an irrational attitude towards protesting............the problems with these situations is that ignorant people protest just for the sake of protesting and without really understanding the underlying issues of what the government is trying to do........what makes it worse in Taiwan is that these students don't even have enough experience or intelligence and exposure to the real world before making such a big chaotic fuss.
The same thing is brewing in HK but the only difference is that we have idiots like the organizers of Occupy Central and the Pan Dems provoking naïve people to go against the government..............Yes, we all know the HK government is incompetent, but so what?.............just live with the fact we're stuck with them until the end of their term.............
Gullible kids with misguided enthusiasm about sums it up.
The last politician in Taiwan who encourage this kind of divisive and confrontational behavior under a guise of "democracy" was Chen Shui-bian. He ended up convicted of embezzling hundreds of millions from the people of Taiwan. It was a solid case with the US Department of Justice, Singaporean, Swiss and many other law enforcement agencies aiding in the investigation and providing evidence.
It is pretty clear that what is going on is fanned by DPP politicians with personal gain, not the welfare of ordinary Taiwanese, in mind.
i'm a chinese living in USA x over 40 yrs, in USA, if you students occupy/ransacking congress or white house as in taiwan, protesters occupying airport as in thailand, throwing eggs to president, flashing insulting signs or verbal insults in background of president during his TV interview as in HK, you will be certain that US security will most likely shoot you in the beseiged congress ,airport, security here will use brutal force if you throw verbal/nonverbal insults in front of TV close to president. both US democrat and republican politicans will definitely endorse such shooting/brutal police force in such circumstance. only in south east asia, that students can ransack government offices, and eccentric politicans threw things or interrupt with grosteque, dramatic banners/placards during legislative/congress hearing, these people abused democracy, insulted authority or representative, hurting image of their countries, and then still cry out that their deomcratic rights not respected or excercised.



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