Several clashes broke out between protesters and police in Taipei yesterday during a new wave of antinuclear protests encircling the Legislative Yuan in a bid to put pressure on lawmakers.
The protesters later in the afternoon moved to the nearby intersection of Linsen S Road and Zhongxiao E Road, where rush-hour traffic was disrupted as the crowd’s numbers swelled to nearly 1,000.
Hundreds of activists — mostly Alliance of Referendum for Taiwan members and young people responding to an call by alliance convener Tsay Ting-kuei (蔡丁貴) on Facebook on Monday night — began gathering in the morning in front of the Legislative Yuan.
Tsay divided the protesters into six groups and had alliance members lead them to block six of the gateways to the Legislative Yuan, where many barricades have recently been set up to prevent protesters from entering the building.
“We can allow people to enter, but do not let legislators come out,” Tsay told the protesters.
Tsay said that the goal was to pressure the lawmakers to either agree to terminate construction of the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant or to amend the Referendum Act (公民投票法).
The protest was targeted at lawmakers and Cabinet members attending a meeting of the legislature at 2:30pm to support former Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) chairman Lin I-hsiung’s (林義雄) hunger strike and end the use of nuclear power.
Many young protesters sitting on the ground held pictures showing the faces of legislators so they would be able to recognize them.
When People First Party Legislator Thomas Lee (李桐豪) tried to leave the complex about noontime from an exit on Qingdao E Road, protesters stationed at that gate stood up to block him and shouted: “Go back to the meeting.”
Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Chiang Hui-chen (江惠貞) was also blocked by protesters when she tried to leave from a small exit in an alley at about the same time.
She said the protesters were violating her right to move freely and told them that she had urgent matters to attend to, but the protesters told her that the nuclear power issue was more urgent.
After several failed attempts to pass the protesters, Chiang was escorted by several police officers to a car.
More protesters tried to stop her along the way as she tried to get in the car, and minor clashes with police occurred again.
About 12:30pm, the windshield of KMT Legislator Lin Ming-chen’s (林明溱) car was broken as a protester jumped onto the hood of the car as Lin he tried to leave via Jinan Road.
Two protesters who had allegedly blocked Lin’s car were arrested.
Amid clashes with the police, Tsay lost consciousness and was sent to hospital.
Displaying a bump on his head, a young man surnamed Tao (陶) — who also had a hole in the back of his T-shirt and scratches on his neck — said that when police officers tried to make way for the legislator to leave, he was pulled by his hair and kicked in the head by police officers after he fell to the ground.
Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Hsiao Bi-khim (蕭美琴), who was blocked for a while at an exit before she was able to return to her office at about 1:30pm, posted a complaint on Facebook.
“Is blocking and restricting personal freedom a value that we are defending? Can it achieve the democracy that Lin I-hsiung is risking his life to stand for?” she wrote.
In the afternoon, the growing crowd seemed to be poorly organized, with sporadic clashes with the police and occasional arguments between protesters.
At about 4pm, hundreds of protesters surrounded KMT Legislator Lu Chia-chen’s (盧嘉辰) car near the intersection of Linsen S Road and Qingdao E Road. Riot police and SWAT officers appeared and tried to push or drag the protesters away from the car, which lead to more physical confrontations.
It took about an hour before Lu’s car was to finally able to move away from the crowd.
A medical person said that five protesters were injured by the police in that confrontation, including one who was hospitalized for bleeding after being hit in the head by a police shield.
At about 6pm, the protesters suddenly moved toward the intersection of Linsen S Road and Zhongxiao E Road and paralyzed traffic by sitting on the ground and chanting. Traffic on Zhongxiao E Road began moving again by 7pm.