Hundreds of anti-nuclear demonstrators fought with police outside the Legislative Yuan building in Taipei overnight yesterday in clashes that ended with the arrests of 11 protesters and left several injured.
Following the start of former Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) chairman Lin I-hsiung’s (林義雄) indefinite hunger strike to halt the construction of the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant in Gongliao District (貢寮), New Taipei City, Alliance of Referendum for Taiwan convener Tsay Ting-kuei (蔡丁貴) led a crowd of anti-nuclear activists to the legislative complex to show their support for Lin.
The protesters were also calling for the adoption of a DPP-proposed special statute to lower the referendum threshold and then hold a vote to determine whether the plant should be completed and become operational.
Minor physical and verbal spats broke out between demonstrators and the police throughout Tuesday as officers asked demonstrators to move elsewhere, but turned more severe after about 10:30pm.
The crowd chanted slogans such as: “Support Lin Yi-xiong, stop nuclear power,” “Give back the streets” and “Police officers back down,” as they rammed police barricades blocking the roads leading to a side entrance of the Legislative Yuan building.
The crowd pulled and shook the barricades, and several people, including Tsay, climbed over them.
Those who vaulted the barricades got into physical clashes with police on the other side, who forced the protesters to the ground and arrested them.
Despite the arrest, the protesters continued undeterred, shouting slogans at the police to release Tsay immediately.
They then tried to climb over the barriers using stools, blankets and mats, as the police tried to stop them by poking them with batons through the barricades.
The crowd become even more incensed when the police refused to allow lawyers and medical personnel onto the legislative compound.
“My name is Tsai Yi-yu [蔡易餘], I am an attorney and the law grants every person the right to be accompanied by an attorney when interrogated by the police,” Tsai told the police through a loudspeaker.
“I received a text message from Tsay, who is not in custody inside the legislative compound, that he would like my company as he is being interrogated right now. You are breaking the law by not allowing me to go inside,” the lawyer added.
After waiting more than 30 minutes without receiving a positive response from the police, the crowd pulled down part of the barricade. Unable to stop the onrushing protesters who outnumbered them, the police eventually agreed to let medical personnel and Tsai pass.
The Taipei District Prosecutors’ Office questioned Tsay at a police station in the early hours of yesterday. They ordered he be released without bail and that he not move from his current residence.
The prosecutors said Tsay faces charges of obstructing officers in the performance of their duties and destruction, abandonment and damage of property.
Tsay returned to the road outside the legislature after leaving the police station.
As the crowd rallied outside the legislature, a vehicle belonging to the Bureau of Standards, Meteorology and Inspections ran into protesters, injuring a couple, before being stopped by the crush of people and the police.
The driver of the vehicle, surnamed Lin (林), was later identified as a bureau employee and is suspected of having been driving under the influence of alcohol.