Defending Democracy: Inside the Occupation of Taiwan’s Congress

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Inside the Occupation. Image Sky Lee

The coalition of student and civic groups against the Cross-Strait Service Trade Agreement (CSSTA) today releases the following statement at 10:00 PM Taipei time 3/20/14

“It has now been 48 hours since we occupied Taiwan’s legislature. We, a non-partisan group of students, civic activists, and people from all walks of life – have taken over the Legislature in protest against the undemocratic and autocratic manner in which the Cross-Strait Service Trade Agreement has been handled by the government and the legislature.

Since our occupation, we have seen tens of thousands of citizens from all across the country join us in support of our demands. Doctors have formed medical stations, lawyers have created pro bono legal teams, and professors have relocated their classes here. All this could not have been possible without the help and support from our fellow citizens concerned about Taiwan’s future.

As of 3/20, our demands include:

1. We demand that Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平) immediately void Legislator Chang Ching-chung’s announcement that the CSSTA has passed the committee stage.

2. President Ma Ying-jeou should begin dialogue with us and negotiations over:

(a) the rejection of the CSSTA; and

(b) the passage of a bill for monitoring cross-strait agreements, and a promise to refrain from negotiating such agreements in lieu of the bill. If our demands are not met by noon on Friday, March 21, our protest will continue and we will begin our next round of action.”

Inside Occupied Congress. Image Sky Lee

Inside Occupied Congress. Image Sky Lee

Thursday March 20, 2014, Taipei, Taiwan 4:30pm inside occupied congress hall. 

The following is from Revolution News correspondent Sky Lee who has been on the scene since the start of the protests.

Today I entered occupied congress hall by climbing ladders to the rooftop and to 3rd, 4th floor windows when occupying shifts changed. At present about 400 students, 50 citizens, 10 medics and 50 reporters from Taiwan are now occupying the Legislative Yuan (Congress) for 80 hours and counting to voice their opposition to the unjust passing of the China Trade Pact (Crossing-Strait Agreement on Trade in Services 兩岸服務貿易協議) which is critical for the future and democracy of Taiwan.

Inside the Occupation Recorded by Sky Lee of Revolution News 2014.03.20 4:30pm

Air conditioning and mobile signal are very weak (rumored to be tampered with by police). Boxes of ice cubes and electric fans have been located to cool everyone off. 

The occupation began around 9pm Tuesday when more than 200 protesters at a rally being held outside the legislature against the trade pact suddenly climbed over the fences to enter the legislative complex. 

They quickly took over the legislative chamber on the ground floor as well as the second floor of the building barricading entrances with piles of chairs in an effort to keep out police forces. Hundreds more people arrived outside the Legislative Yuan around 3:40am in a show of support for the protesters inside.

People Barricading the Doors with Chairs and Securing with Rope. Image Sky Lee

People Barricading the Doors with Chairs and Securing with Rope. Image Sky Lee

Now thousands of protesters surround the building outside. Despite several attempts by the police to retake the legislative chamber yesterday in vain, the protesters inside resisted while those outside pulled officers away. 400 demonstrators, mainly college students against the China-Taiwan trade pact remain in control of the chamber hall. 

10's of Thousands Have Remained Outside Occupied Congress Day and Night. Image Sky Lee

10’s of Thousands Have Remained Outside Occupied Congress Day and Night. Image Sky Lee

Activists change shifts by climbing in and out of the chamber through second floor balcony windows. The protest leader said they plan to occupy the legislative chamber until 3pm Friday if President Ma fails to answer their demands there will be more progressive protests. 

People outside the Legislative Yuan continue to arrive in waves. Many are traveling from central and southern Taiwan raising the number of protesters to more than 20,000 according to official estimates.

Activists hung national flags upside down on the chamber rooftop to express their dissatisfaction with the government’s handing of the trade agreement. Many people showed their support for the protesters by sending in boxes of food, drinks and other necessitates to the legislative chamber. 

Activists hung national flags upside down on the chamber rooftop to express their dissatisfaction with the governments handing of the trade agreement. Image Sky Lee

Activists hung national flags upside down on the chamber rooftop to express their dissatisfaction with the governments handing of the trade agreement. Image Sky Lee

Solidarity protests taking place around Taiwan are drawing 1000’s of people in support of the occupation.

5000+ in Taichung (central Taiwan) People's Square. 2.5hrs drive from Occupation in Taipei

1000’s at a Solidarity Rally inTaichung(central Taiwan) People’s Square. 2.5 hours drive away from the occupation in Taipei

Tainan - Nan-jung Square In National Cheng Kung University 5000 people. Image Janet Wang

Tainan – Nan-jung Square In National Cheng Kung University 5000 people. Image Janet Wang

Former prime minister of Taiwan, Frank Hsieh. Would like to tell you what is going on in Taiwan.

The US-Taiwan advocacy group Formosan Association for Public Affairs (FAPA) released a video montage of Taiwanese Americans supporting Taiwan’s demonstration. We Support You Taiwan!

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People barricading the doors with chairs.

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People barricading the doors with chairs. Image Sky Lee

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Inside Occupied Congress. Image Sky Lee

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One of many barricaded doors. Image Sky Lee

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Inside Occupied Congress. Image Sky Lee

Our earlier report- Students in Taiwan Have Stormed and Occupied the Legislative Yuan

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Live streaming video by Ustream

 

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The people gathered outside of Occupied Congress on the late night of Thursday 3/20 image Sky Lee

Video chronicling the events on the night of Thursday 3/20 and the early morning hours of Friday 3/21

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Video “I’m a Taiwanese ” Young Generation Guarding Taiwan Democracy

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Occupied Congress on Friday morning. Activists wave national flags that are hung upside down. Image also shows how occupiers enter and leave through the upper story windows and rooftops. Image Sky Lee

 

Check back here for more updates as events unfold.

About Author

Jennifer Baker is the founder and editor of Revolution News Contact us with inquiries, tips, corrections at revnewsmedia@gmail.com