Students in the House

24 Mar

It’s been on Taiwan headline news for about a week or so and even The Economist had it reported:

NEARLY three days into their occupation of the debating chamber of the Legislative Yuan, Taiwan’s parliament, in Taipei, dozens of activists, mostly students, show no sign of flagging. They broke in on Tuesday evening, March 18th, and resisted attempts by the police to evict them overnight. Since then, a stand-off has persisted. The police are stopping new arrivals from joining them, but allow in food and water. The protesters include a team of white-coated medics. They look well settled.

The occupation was billed as lasting 120 hours, to block a plenary parliamentary session on Friday 21st March, and to provide a deadline for the government to meet the protesters’ demands. These are three-fold: they want Mr Ma to come to the chamber himself to apologise for the way in which his party pushed an agreement on opening up services trade with China through parliament on Monday (available here, in Chinese); they also want the parliamentary speaker, Wang Jin-pyng (who happens to be a rival to Mr Ma in the ruling party, the Kuomintang, or KMT ) to come to pay his respects; and they want legislation passed to institutionalise parliament’s right to scrutinise such agreements item by item.

The students say they will not leave after their five-day deadline if their demands have not been met; and they may take their “occupy” strategy to other targets: Mr Ma’s own office, for example.

It is already highly unusual for a government to have tolerated the seizure of parliament by protesters for so long. But, fearful of the ugly headlines using force against peaceful students would attract, it does not have many easy options.

 

Here is the students’ latest “occupy strategy”: Students storm Executive Yuan as standoff persists

The protesters fought police as they broke into the Executive Yuan complex in a move they said was aimed at getting Ma to stop ignoring the public

Mounting frustration over what they see as the government’s lack of sincerity in addressing protesters’ demands over the cross-strait services trade pact led students to force their way through security barricades and razor wire into the Executive Yuan complex in Taipei last night to stage a sit-in.

They said they decided to occupy the Executive Yuan because President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) had apparently failed to understand the concerns they have repeatedly expressed over the past days.

At a press conference yesterday morning, Ma showed that he was completely ignoring the public’s voices, the activists said.

“We are here to tell Ma that he should listen to the public’s angry shouts and listen to their voices,” the students said, adding: “We will demonstrate citizens’ strength again and again.”

At 11pm, Premier Jiang Yi-huah (江宜樺) ordered the National Police Agency to deploy more officers to the Executive Yuan to forcibly remove the protestors.

Executive Yuan spokesperson Sun Lih-chyun (孫立群) said that Jiang was distressed by the protesters’ moves, and had vowed to hold them responsible for what he called their illegal and violent actions.

 

Well well well, I’m glad to see students stand up for what they consider rightful/democratic but violence should never be tolerated or condoned.

 

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