Dozens of students and activists last night took part in a silent procession around the Executive Yuan compound in Taipei, marking the one-year anniversary of the bloody police crackdown on the Executive Yuan protests on March 23 last year during the Sunflower movement.
Led by a coalition of youth activist groups, the participants paid respect to protesters who were injured in last year’s demonstrations, which ended violently after then-premier Jiang Yi-huah (江宜樺) ordered the police to clear the protesters by dawn on March 24.
Since April last year, about 50 injured protesters have filed lawsuits against Jiang, then-National Police Agency director Wang Cho-chiun (王卓鈞) and other police officials over charges related to police brutality — including charges of attempted murder.
Student activist Huang Yen-ju (黃燕如), a member of the Black Island National Youth Front, said that the exact number of protesters injured in the movement might remain unknown, as many protesters have been reluctant to file charges or apply for medical assistance out of fear of police prosecution.
Following the incident, the Taipei District Prosecutors’ office indicted 93 students on charges of unauthorized entry, citing Article 306 of the Criminal Code. The number was significantly higher than the 22 protesters indicted for the occupation of the Legislative Yuan’s main chamber.
The Executive Yuan protests occurred a week into the Sunflower movement protests last year, triggered by mounting dissatisfaction over a lack of an official response from the government toward demands for oversight of the proposed cross-strait service trade agreement.
While student-led protesters occupied the Legislative Yuan’s main chamber for 23 days — from March 18 to April 10 — the siege to occupy the nearby Executive Yuan compound ended in failure, as the police armed with batons, shields and water cannons swiftly overwhelmed protesters during the night.
The crackdown, which utilized a show of force unseen in Taiwan in more than two decades, has often been described as a turning point for the Sunflower movement, as public sympathy swelled in support for the injured protesters.
The incident revealed hidden fault lines among participants of the Sunflower movement, as leading activists based in the Legislative Yuan’s main chamber later distanced themselves from the decision to storm the Executive Yuan.
Last night’s event was held as part of a two-day event commemorating the Sunflower movement’s anniversary titled “Walking Back to the Place Without God.”
In heavy rainfall, the solemn procession paused momentarily when it reached Beiping E Road on the northern side of the Executive Yuan compound, as participants stopped to offer their blessings to the protesters who were injured.