Opponents of pension reform will not stage protests outside the venue hosting the Summer Universiade’s closing ceremony in Taipei, Taiwan Veteran Rights Protection Association president Huang Cheng-chung (黃正忠) said yesterday, amid criticism that protesters disrupted the opening ceremony on Saturday.
“We will not be back on Aug. 30, but we will use this period to let Taiwanese know that we are being stigmatized by the government and that we are not rioters,” said Huang, one of the organizers of Saturday’s demonstration, during which protesters clashed with police and blocked foreign athletes entering the Taipei Municipal Stadium, where the opening ceremony was held.
“We will not return here [the stadium], but I have applied for legal road rights and will go to [President Tsai Ing-wen’s (蔡英文)] official residence to protest and force her to listen to our demands,” he said.
Huang’s remarks came after the Chinese-language Liberty Times (the Taipei Times’ sister paper) reported that reform opponents intended to protest the closing ceremony, with Premier Lin Chuan (林全) on Sunday saying that any further disruptions of the Games would be met with an “iron fist” and detentions.
Saturday’s protests represented the culmination of more than a month of demonstrations which saw the use of smoke bombs and attempts to block Tsai’s motorcade as protesters followed through on a promise to follow her “like a shadow.”
Huang yesterday denied that protesters had set off the smoke bomb or threatened participants.
“We were blocked by a police line. The smoke bomb went off behind them; how are we supposed to have gotten through?” he said, urging the Taipei City Police Department to release any footage of the incident.
“Charging through would have been an impossibility and there was no way for us to reach the athletes,” Huang added.
Some groups that had previously opposed pension reform legislation have distanced themselves from the Universiade protesters, with the 800 Heroes group of military veterans saying they will not take part in any protests aimed at disrupting the Games.
National Federation of Teachers’ Unions director-general Huang Yao-nan (黃耀南) and National Civil Servant Association president Harry Lee (李來希) participated in Saturday’s protests in a personal capacity, with the teachers’ union reportedly declining to support the Universiade protesters.
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