Tue, Apr 01, 2014 - Page 4 News List

TRADE PACT SIEGE: Protesters shake off heavy overnight showers

By Lee I-chia, Hsieh Wen-hua and Tsao Po-yen  /  Staff reporters

“Sunflower student movement” marshals guarding the gate of the Legislative Yuan shelter from the heavy showers in Taipei early yesterday morning.

Photo: Wang Yi-sung, Taipei Times

Weary student protesters sleeping on the roads outside the Legislative Yuan were roused from their sleep by a heavy thunderstorm at about 3am yesterday as the “Sunflower student movement” headed into its 14th day.

At about 9am, blankets were seen hanging up to dry on the road signs along Jinan Road (濟南路) and even on the gates of the Joint Central Government Office Building.

Chang Chun-wei (張俊緯), in his second year at Tunghai University’s Department of Animal Science and Biotechnology, said previously students gathered in circles for late-night discussions or performances, but on Sunday night most were sound asleep at 3am because of the exertions of the day’s mega rally.

When the rain hit, they hurriedly rolled up their blankets, but many were already soaked, he said.

With little shelter on Jinan Road, some students took cover at the goods and supplies stall, at Chinan Church (濟南教會) and at the hot-food supply stall, and drank hot ginger tea.

A student volunteer surnamed Chou (周) said because netizens had warned them in advance about the weather, volunteers were able to wake up many students and lead them to shelter.

Other volunteers said they were worried media would take advantage of the rain and take images showing the road strewn with mats or waste, so they quickly cleaned up the roads, despite the storm.

Once dry in the early morning, the protesters headed back to Jinan Road to pick off where they left off.

Volunteers read aloud news reports and people assembled again for group discussions, with some protesters galvanized upon hearing that official attendance numbers for the Sunday rally had reached more than 500,000.

A 60-year-old doorkeeper surnamed Chou (周) said he had rushed to the site at 1pm to support the students, after he got off from his 12-hour shift, and once there, he decided to stay for six hours, before getting ready for another shift at 12am.

He said seeing the passion of the student protesters gave him hope that the nation may have a brighter future.

This is despite his own circumstances, in which he earns just over NT$20,000 a month — working 20 days a month, 12 hours a day — making it difficult for him to make a living. Two of his three children are now at university.

Chou said he worries that if the service trade agreement is approved, commodity prices will skyrocket, causing inflation, leaving people not even able to afford rice.

Retired civil servant Wang Ching-tsung (王進聰), who has attended the protest from 8am to 6pm for eight days, said if young people do not stand today, the nation has no future.

“I am already more than 60 years old and I feel terribly sorry for these children who are only teenagers or in their 20s. They are bearing such a heavy burden for us. I weep when I think about this, because they are like my own children and I feel I have to stand up to defend them,” he said.

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