From March 18 to April 10, 2014, a group of 300 Taiwanese students occupied the central government building in Taipei, to protest new trade agreements with China. Hundreds of thousands came to support them, and a huge non-violent protest filled the minds of Taiwanese everywhere.

Occurring at the bottom of my road, I couldn't ignore it, so I took some photos to record what felt like a truly significant moment for Taiwan, with 500,000 people taking to the streets, holding placards, banners and sunflowers.

I was amazed at how peaceful everything was. I saw no tension with police, who despite being hugely outnumbered were guarding exits, while students sat or stood in front of them with their arms linked, not pushing or abusing them. In turn, the police were not trying to kettle the protesters or intimidate them. They were there to protect the protesters, working very long hours. Whenever the police changed over to swap shifts, the protesters applauded them, and chanted "thank you for your efforts".

The police allowed food, water, blankets and wifi equipment into the main building, to make sure the protesters barricaded inside were well looked after.
Outside, supporters sent boxes of food, sunflowers, portaloos etc, so the whole site felt more like a marathon race day. Food stalls gave out bread and noodles, and people wandered among the crowd, giving out snacks, while the protesters sat in rows, listening to talks and chanting, leaving space between them so people could walk around easily.

The protest sites were not cut off; police allowed free movement, however they barricaded other buildings. Blankets and cloth were laid on the barbed wire, to ensure no one got hurt.

The agreement is now shuffling through various stages of review, forced by the protest, but what felt like a watershed was that the youth of the country realised what they could do when they felt their government didn't represent them. |