Protesters surrounding the Legislative Yuan on March 20
Taiwanese riot police were deployed early yesterday morning to dissolve the protests that have occupied the island’s legislative building for the past week. With batons flailing and water-cannons firing, the protest was broken-up after 61 were arrested and more than 150 injured, but with no deaths.
It apparently took “seven waves” of riot police which—especially if they were the ninja-style cops we covered last year—sounds utterly terrifying. Demonstrators shouted against police brutality, and some (now disproved) rumors of a protestor’s death briefly circulated online.
South China Morning Post interviewed a number of protestors:
“How could they treat us like a rioter? We are just plain students,” said a soaking wet and weeping Huang Pei-feng, a sophomore of National Taiwan University, who was among those who faced the water canon.
“This won’t stop us. We will continue our protest until [president] Ma Ying-jeou scraps the trade service pact,” said Alex Chen, a student of National Chengkung University, after he was dragged to the ground during the dispersal.
The occupation of the parliamentary building was called “illegal” by President Ma Ying-jeou and, regardless of one’s sympathy for the protestors’ cause, the man ain’t wrong. The occupation is over, but the protests may have just begun; president Ma is meeting with senior officials to discuss the impact of the protests, and there is no word yet (although optimism should be kept in check) if the China/Taiwan trade bill that sparked these protests will be reviewed by the legislature.