Protesters surrounding the Legislative Yuan on March 20
Demonstrators broke through barricades and stormed Taiwan’s cabinet building yesterday following an international press conference held by President Ma Ying-jeou, who refused to meet demands of students protesting against the Cross-Strait Service Trade Agreement between the island and mainland China.
SCMP reports that some two dozen people were injured when the student-led demonstrators ransacked the executive offices in opposition of Ma’s call for them to end their occupation of legislator. At least 100 students managed to break into the Executive Yuan Council, reportedly seizing documents and computer files as people outside shouted “We want real democracy”, surrounded by over 500 armed police.
The Diplomat reports that as many as 50 protestors sustained injuries during clashes with the police:
Although police authorities had not acted on orders to evict the activists from the legislature — relations have in fact been rather cordial, with protesters often applauding and thanking law enforcement — Sunday’s occupation of the Executive Yuan was a major escalation, and soon there was chatter that police would intervene. The Cabinet gave the order at 10:30 p.m. and told police to do everything necessary to evict the occupiers by 11 p.m. In response, the Democratic Front Against Cross Strait Trade In Services, one of the groups orchestrating the occupation at the legislature, issued a press release, in which it called on the authorities, “to not use violence to suppress the protesters.” It also called on the government “to not release emergency orders and to not mobilize the armed forces.”
As hundreds of police with shields and batons formed a line in front of the Executive Yuan, an even larger contingent of riot police, flanked by truck-mounted water cannons, faced off with protesters behind the building on Beiping Road. At about midnight, the order was given to rid the area of protesters. About 200 riot police, armed with shields and batons, descended on the protesters as the latter were about to sit down and shouted “please don’t use force against us.” At one side, a young woman, crying, called out to her boyfriend who was among the protesters. Several black-clad riot police swung their batons at young protesters, while police used their PVC shields to hit sitting protesters on the legs. Several dozens of protesters were eventually taken out — oftentimes shoved violently and dragged around — while police pushed out of the area. Protesters complained that the riot police had masked their badge numbers. Journalists who identified themselves as such and showed identification were also ordered to leave.
Riot police and law-enforcement officers at the Executive Yuan were still attempting to remove demonstrators around 4:30 a.m., according to The Diplomat. The Post reports that authorities mobilized around 3,000 officers all together, and at least 20 students were detained.
[Image via Wiki Commons]