Tens of thousands of protesters poured into the streets last night to join a symbolic "siege" of the Presidential Office as part of the anti-President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) movement aimed at ousting him.
The "siege" started at 6pm, earlier than the scheduled 7pm, on Ketagalan Boulevard and then marched along roads around the Presidential Office and the Yushan Residence. The march stretched over 5.5km and concluded at around midnight at the plaza in front of Taipei Railway Station. The sit-in will continue on the plaza until Wednesday, before the camp moves back to Ketagalan Boulevard on Thursday.
As he arrived at the Taipei Railway Station, campaign leader Shih Ming-teh (
PHOTO: WALLY SANTANA, AP
He then led the crowd in shouts of "Long live Taiwanese people" and cheering for the "success" of the "siege."
"The siege tonight proved that Taiwanese people have the ability to clear away corruption and to uphold democracy, justice and peace," Shih said.
He called on the protesters to continue the efforts to oust Chen, urging them to parade on "if any regrettable accident were to happen to me."
"Let us keep fighting! A-bian Step Down!" Shih told the crowd before leading the march on a jeep along Ketagalan Boulevard.
One of the demonstrators, Lee Shu-chun (
"It angers me to see Chen Shui-bian still refusing to step down," Lee told the Taipei Times.
Waiting for friends at the National Taiwan University Hospital MRT station, Sophia Wu, who went to the march directly from work, said although she did not oppose the pan-green camp, she was opposed to the "corrupted Chen Shui-bian."
"Any corrupt official should step down. A-bian is the nation's leader -- he should pay heed to the demand of so many people," said Wu.
At another corner, a high-school student surnamed Tseng, who declined to give her first name, attended the march with her little sister and uncle.
"I came here after school at about 5 pm ... I think President Chen should step down because he is corrupt," she said.
Lin Cheng-chieh (
At 10pm last night the Taipei City Police Department estimated that 320,000 people attended the march, including 3,500 who were staying in the Taipei Railway Station.
According to the department, the march proceeded peacefully, with only minor incidents reported.
Taipei's Rapid Transit System Department said that more than 1.18 million people had taken the MRT by 9pm yesterday, 180,000 more than by same time last Friday.
The Taipei City Department of Heath said that four people were hospitalized for various reasons, including one passed out during the march. No violence-related injuries were reported.
Presiding over a briefing at the police department last night, Ma applauded the peaceful march and thanked the police for their hard work.
According to the Taipei City Police Department's Commissioner Wang Cho-chun (
The head of the National Police Agency, Hou Yu-yi (
To accommodate the anti-Chen crowd that swarmed to the southern square of Taipei Railway Station last night, the Taiwan Railway Administration announced that it would leave the entrances open all night so that protesters could enter to use the bathrooms and purchase personal items.
The administration also decided that it would halt the sale of platform tickets to ensure passenger safety.
The administration had used red tape to mark certain areas in the Station where protesters would be advised to disperse from.
Earlier yesterday during the sit-in, a 48-year-old man named Hou Guo-lung (侯國龍) tried to immolate himself with gasoline on the protest stage before camp staff dissuaded him from doing so.
Hou, from Kaohsiung, said he wanted use his suicide to protest against Chen's corruption and had prepared a suicide note.
Meanwhile, at a party to celebrate the 185th anniversary of Central American Independence Day yesterday, American Institute in Taiwan director Stephen Young said that the protests were part of democracy.
So long as the protesters held their campaign peacefully, they wouldn't violate the law, he said.
Additional reporting by Shih Hsiu-chuan and Shelley Shan
Passengers on domestic flights would not be allowed to board if their temperature is more than 37.5°C or if they refuse to have their temperatures taken, Uni Air (立榮航空) and Mandarin Airlines (華信航空) said yesterday. The two airlines made the announcement after their parent companies — EVA Airways (長榮航空) and China Airlines (CAL, 中華航空) respectively — announced similar pre-boarding requirements on Saturday, along with a requirement that passengers wear masks during their flights, except when they have meals or drinks. Uni Air and Mandarin Airlines said domestic passengers would be required to wear masks from the time they start using self-help
CASE COUNT RISES: One of the new domestic cases is a nurse at a long-term care center, but so far tests on all the residents and other staff have been negative Flight transits through all Taiwanese airports would be banned for two weeks, starting tomorrow, the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) said yesterday as it announced 16 new confirmed cases of COVID-19, bringing the nation’s total to 169. Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), head of the center, said all flight transits would be banned through April 7. In light of the rapidly increasing number of imported COVID-19 cases, there was a need to further reduce cross-border travel and the risk of disease transmission, the center said. The Civil Aeronautics Administration has informed airlines about the new measures, and anyone who has
A public health expert yesterday warned that too many people are meeting in small groups in coffee shops and restaurants without keeping a proper distance from one another, as he urged the government to loosen the criteria for testing young Taiwanese returning from abroad for COVID-19. People need to keep a social distance of at least 2m, National Taiwan University (NTU) College of Public Health dean Chan Chang-chuan (詹長權) said as the college presented its seventh weekly report on COVID-19 at a morning news conference. More than 300,000 confirmed cases of the virus have been reported in more than three-quarters of all
MORE CASES EXPECTED: Many young Taiwanese would be returning home over the next two weeks, as schools in many nations closed, the health minister said Twenty-six new COVID-19 cases were confirmed yesterday, including five clusters, and all but one were imported, bringing Taiwan’s total number to 195, as border controls and home quarantine measures prove their effectiveness, the head of the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) said. Twelve of the new cases were in people tested at airports upon their return, 11 were in people under home quarantine and two were people who tested positive after seeking medical treatment, Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), who heads the center, said at its daily news conference. “The new domestic case is a woman who lives with