The following are selected major events in the 24-day student-led protest occupying the Legislative Yuan, dubbed the Sunflower movement, that began March 18 and ended yesterday:
In a chaotic joint session of eight committees of the Legislative Yuan and a mere 30 seconds into the review of the cross-strait service trade pact, Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Chang Ching-chung (張慶忠), announced that the review was over and that the agreement would be submitted to the legislature. The move triggered an angry response from student activists and civic groups, as well as the opposition parties.
The Democratic Front Against The Cross-Strait Trade in Services Agreement held an evening rally outside the Legislative Yuan, which turned into a storming of the legislature by hundreds of student protesters. Using swivel chairs and other furniture, they sequestered themselves in the main legislative chamber, where overnight police attempts to evict them were unsuccessful.
Hundreds of people — also mainly students — who supported the occupation gathered outside the legislative compound. The protesters’ demands included Premier Jiang Yi-huah’s (江宜樺) resignation, an apology from President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) and a return of the service trade pact to an item-by-item review by the legislative committees.
Ma called a meeting with Vice President Wu Den-yih (吳敦義), Jiang and Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平) in a bid to end the confrontation, but it was canceled after Wang excused himself, saying in a letter that the nature of the dispute is different from one that would require the intervention of the head of state.
Jiang became the first ranking administration official to see the protesters.
He was met outside the Legislative Yuan by National Taiwan University graduate student Lin Fei-fan (林飛帆) and other student leaders, who demanded that, for a dialogue to happen, the premier should promise first to withdraw the service trade pact from the legislature and to enact a new law aimed at providing close scrutiny of all agreements with China.
The brief encounter broke up after Jiang rejected the setting of preconditions for a dialogue.
Ma called an international press conference, in which he stressed the importance of the cross-strait service trade agreement to Taiwan’s economy and its efforts to avoid marginalization. In response, the student-led movement said the president did not show any sincerity in having a dialogue with the protesters.
The students issued four demands: a civic conference on constitutional government, legalization of the mechanism for monitoring cross-strait agreements, no action on the service trade pact until the new oversight law is enacted and a pledge by all legislators to work on the new legislation first.
In the evening, hundreds of protesters broke into the Executive Yuan compound, which is about 200m from the Legislative Yuan.
As police prepared to evict the intruders, a few politicians of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) went to the site to support the activists. They included current and former party bosses Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌), Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) and Frank Hsieh (謝長廷).
After police reinforcements arrived, law enforcement began forcibly removing the activists after midnight, including the use of water cannons.