Dozens of activists vaulted the front gate of the Legislative Yuan in Taipei yesterday morning in protest over the controversial free economic pilot zones draft bill being put on yesterday’s legislative agenda, but were dispersed by police, who handcuffed and arrested some of the demonstrators about an hour after they jumped the fence.
A group of about 30 people, representing at least five activist groups, including the Restoration of Taiwan Social Justice, the Wing of Radical Politics, the Alliance of Referendum for Taiwan and Democracy Kuroshio, climbed over the front gate before a plenary session that was scheduled to begin at 9am to protest against the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) placing the free economic pilot zones bill on the agenda and its alleged intention to ram it through.
The groups called for public vigilance over what they said was President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) administration’s colluding with the Chinese government to remove the barriers between China and Taiwan under the pretext of promoting free trade and economic growth.
They said industry upgrades and developing the nation’s competitive industries are what Taiwan really needs.
The protesters who made it over the fence then sat in the Legislative Yuan’s front plaza in front of the building’s heavily guarded entrance.
After four warnings from the police, some of who held plaques saying that the protesters’ actions were illegal, scores of officers started physically removing the protestors from the plaza.
The result was chaotic scuffles, during which at least two protesters were injured and sent to a hospital, while two more were handcuffed.
The student protesters regrouped after being evicted and began a “walking demonstration” around the complex at about 11am.
There were no further attempts to gain entry to the complex and no further arrests.
The groups issued a statement accusing the police of failing to deploy female police officers to remove female protesters and officers’ use of unnecessary force.
They also accused Taipei’s Zhongzheng First Police Precinct Chief Fang Yang-ning (方仰寧), who gave orders during the dispersal of the protesters, of lying to vilify the activists. They said that Fang repeatedly said in a loud voice that the protesters should not attack police, even though the demonstration was non-violent.
The protesters remained outside the front of the legislative compound until the legislative session was adjourned.
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