Mon, Mar 31, 2014 - Page 1 News List

Protest gathers broad support

‘BLACK-CLAD ARMY’:While the majority of protesters were young people, they included a broad spectrum of society, drawn together by concern for Taiwan’s future

By Chris Wang, Lee Hsin-fang and Kan Chih-chi  /  Staff reporters

In front of the Legislative Yuan, a university junior student surnamed Hu (胡) set up a tent with a sunflower painted on it, inviting protesters to help use their fingerprints to color the sunflowers — to symbolize that the student movement is a result of the gathered strength of the people.

Many people lent their fingerprints, and the painting was almost finished by noon.

Hu said she had taken pictures of everyone who left a handprint on it, and that she will upload the photographs and the final painting on a Facebook page, in memory of “the year we stood up for the student movement.”

Yesterday’s protest was aimed at more than just the trade agreement, which was unilaterally passed through its committee without deliberation by Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) lawmakers on March 17 and sparked the student-led movement, as non-governmental organizations (NGOs), which worked with the students to organize the protest, also took the opportunity to promote their causes.

A total of 22 NGOs, which focused on a wide range of social issues, such as gender, education, culture and environment, set up booths on Zhongshan S Road.

The student movement has received strong support for a reason, Northern Coast Anti-Nuclear Action Alliance chief executive Kuo Ching-lin (郭慶霖) said.

“People support the movement because they understand that Taiwan has a long way to go as a democracy. For years, the government had always made unilateral decisions without consulting the people, such as the construction of nuclear power plants and nuclear waste storage sites,” Kuo said.

“Most people no longer trust the government,” he added.

Politicians have taken a back seat in the protests, with Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) heavyweights choosing to participate in the protest quietly, without drawing too much attention.

Wearing a black shirt, DPP Chairman Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) said he attended the event as a citizen, while former DPP chairperson Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) praised the students’ courage and discipline and urged Ma to ease people’s suspicions by making substantial promises.

The DPP Central Committee had instructed its members who plan to take part in year-end elections not to attend the demonstration wearing their campaign vests.

In addition, election flags and campaign vehicles were prohibited at the protest sites.

Additional reporting by Huang Hsin-po and agencies

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