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Support Pours in for #CongressOccupied Protesters in Taiwan

Protesters and their supporters are using the hashtag #CongressOccupied on Twitter and Facebook to spread the message about their occupation of Taiwan's legislature in response to the ruling party's autocratic move to pass a controversial trade agreement with China without a promised clause-by-clause review.

The Cross-Strait Service Agreement, a bilateral trade agreement between Taiwan and China, was pushed through an administrative committee by presiding chairman Chang Ching-Chung and sent to the Legislative Yuan's plenary session, despite an earlier commitment to hold a thorough public review of the document. Some fear the unrestricted entry of mainland capital poses a threat to Taiwanese culture, freedom of expression and even national security and so are wary of the trade agreement. 

The protest at the podium of the legislature is being broadcast live on Ustream. The live-cast is mirrored in Japan.

While the news is spread out on internet, supporters from all over Taiwan keep coming to the Legislation Yuan. Photo from JANEZCHOU. CC: NC.

As news spreads on the Internet, supporters from all over Taiwan continue to stream in to the Legislation Yuan. Photo from JANEZCHOU. CC: NC.

In the evening of March 19, the Democratic Front, one of the key organizers of the occupation action, held a press conference to make public their demands [zh]:

一、警察立刻退出國會,馬英九向全民道歉,江宜樺下台;
二、張慶忠違法會議無效,立即退回服貿協議;
三、盡速完成兩岸協定簽署條例之立法,在此之前,暫停所有兩岸協商與高層互訪。

1. The police should leave the legislature, President Ma [Ying-jeou] should apologize, and Premier Chiang should resign.

2. What legislator Chang Ching-Chung did in the legislature on March 17 is illegal, and the decision that he claimed to make is not valid. The Legislation Yuan should reject the Service Trade Agreement.

3. The Legislation Yuan should proceed with regulations for signing the Cross-Strait Agreement as soon as possible, and the government should stop Cross-Strait negotiation and visits until this regulation is completed.

In addition to the request that the administration review the trade agreement, a coalition of youth and civic groups claimed in a press conference [zh] on March 20 that they will expand the scale of the protest if President Ma Ying-jeou and his government do not respond before noon on March 21.

Healthcare workers joined the protest to give medical assistance to both the protesters and police officers, and they used Facebook to recruit more volunteers. Wei Liulin explained their action:

Health care workers at #CongressOccupied. Photo from Wei Liulin. CC: NC.

Health care workers at #CongressOccupied. Photo from Wei Liulin. CC: NC.

我們會盡力守護現場所有民眾跟警察的安全。但是也要呼籲警察千萬不要用暴力、武器攻擊場內手無寸鐵,堅持和平非暴力抗爭的學生與民眾。
我們已經決議,如果警方用暴力方式攻擊民眾,基於醫療人員保護病人的職責,我們絕對在第一線保護學生。

We will try our best to protect the citizens and police. We ask that the police not take any violent action and do not use any kind of weapons to attack these non-violent protesters.

We already made a decision that if the police use any violent measures against protesters, we will stand in front of the injured protesters because we are healthcare workers and we will protect the patients we are taking care of.

Örkesh Dölet, known for his leading role in the Tiananmen protests of 1989 who now resides in Taiwan, entered the Legislation Yuan and encouraged protesters in the early morning on March 20:

在關鍵的時刻,挺身而出,是光榮的。公民應該挺身而出表達自己的責任,這是台灣有希望的體現。1989年到現在25年,我那時是學生,學生關心國家關心命運的決心沒有死,在台灣繼續發揮,在中國也會繼續發揮,這就是民主的希望。

Standing out at this critical moment is honorable action. This is how I find hope in Taiwan because the citizens think they should stand up and express their responsibility. Twenty-five years have passed since I was a student in 1989. Students’ determination to care for the fate of their countries never dies out, as I can see in Taiwan, as I can see in China. This is our hope for a democratic society.

Protesters in the rain. Photo from munch. CC: NC.

Protesters in the rain. Photo from munch. CC: NC.

Another important leader of the Tiananmen protests of 1989 who also resides in Taiwan, Wang Dan, went to the Legislation Yuan with Örkesh Dölet to show his support:

記者問這場學運與中國的八九民運如何對比,我覺得當然不同的地方很多,但是相同的關鍵詞也很多:學生,理想,熱情,付出,還有愛。[...]看著滿場疲憊的學生,我也覺得,臺灣有這些年輕人,真好。

The reporters asked me how this student demonstration is compared to the Tiananmen protest in 1989. Of course there are a lot of differences, but there are also a lot of things that they have in common: students, ideals, passion, giving and love. [...] When I look at these tireless students here, I feel that Taiwan is blessed because of these students.

Taiwanese students studying abroad also have provided what they can for the protest via Facebook pages. For example, Students abroad support for the protests against the Service Trade Agreement and Save Taiwan! Fight for democracy! Taiwanese students in UK against the black-box trade agreement are rallying support for the cause. 

Hundreds of Taiwanese in Japan, Germany and elsewhere have signed a petition on a Facebook page for students abroad:

屬於我們世代的三月學運,不能少留學生一份!
[...] 全球24小時都有人醒著,陪著現在在立法院奮戰的台灣人。

The students abroad shall not be left out of the March Student Demonstration [...] There are Taiwanese all over the world around the clock to accompany the Taiwanese fighting in the Legislation Yuan.

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