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Anti-nuclear groups launch protest weekend
Legislator's chauffeur and protester detained after clash
Taiwan News, Staff Writer
2014-04-25 05:41 PM
TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – Anti-nuclear activists were starting a series of protests over the weekend in support of former Democratic Progressive Party Chairman Lin Yi-hsiung’s hunger strike.

His fast went into its fourth day Friday while gathering more support from across society for the scrapping of the fourth nuclear plant, now nearing completion in Gongliao, New Taipei City.

Opponents of nuclear energy are planning to come together on Ketagalan Boulevard in front of the Presidential Office at 4 p.m. Saturday for an indefinite sit-in action in support of Lin. The protest would also include a march beginning and ending at the same location on Sunday afternoon.

Action groups also expected 4,000 people to turn up for a run in the same area at 7 a.m. Saturday.

Though most of the protests were expected to take place in front of the Presidential Office Building, a group led by Taiwan Referendum Association leader Tsay Ting-kuei already tried to besiege the Legislative Yuan on Friday. When hundreds of protesters tried to approach the compound, a 1,000-man-strong police force intervened and clashes erupted. Tsay said he wanted to prevent any lawmakers from leaving as long as the fourth nuclear plant had not been halted.

When ruling Kuomintang lawmaker Alex Tsai was spotted planning to leave, a protester jumped on his car, but the vehicle did not stop, reports said. Both Tsai’s chauffeur and the protester were later detained for questioning.

Nearly all of the DPP’s 40 lawmakers appeared on Ketagalan Boulevard Friday evening for a sit-in wearing straw farmers’ hats. If President Ma Ying-jeou failed to change his attitude toward Lin and the nuclear issue, he would certainly trigger a political storm and be forced to leave office prematurely, said DPP legislative caucus chief Ker Chien-ming.

Inside the Legislature, opposition lawmakers were occupying the podium to prevent the KMT from referring a DPP referendum proposal to a review by committee. The opposition party wants to hand the document straight to a second reading in order not to lose time.

A group of more than 100 scholars, including university professors and Academia Sinica researchers, tied yellow ribbons to the barbed wire in front of the Presidential Office Building Friday and walked over to the Gikong Presbyterian Church where Lin was holding his fast.

He received the visit Friday morning of Lin Fei-fan, Chen Wei-ting and Huang Kuo-chang, three of the most prominent leaders of the March 18-April 10 student occupation of the Legislative Yuan against the trade-in-services pact with China. In a reference to the discussion between President Ma and DPP Chairman Su Tseng-chang being broadcast live Friday morning, the students called on their supporters to turn off the television and come out into the streets in protest.

During the afternoon, former student activist Fan Yun, who played a role in major protests calling for constitutional reform more than 20 years ago, also paid Lin a visit.

The Taiwan Association of University Professors said at a news conference that the moment Lin collapsed would be the sign for a revolution. Some groups would be ready to abandon peaceful protests and launch more intensive action, reports said.

Taiwan Solidarity Union Secretary-General Lin Chih-chia ended a sit-in outside the New Taipei City Government after reading a statement in support of Lin Friday and moved over to downtown Taipei.

While attention was likely to focus on rallies in the capital, DPP officials in Pingtung County held a short protest Friday, promising to gather enough supporters to join Sunday’s action in Taipei.

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