Police, Reporters, and Protesters Injured as Pension Reform Protests Turn Violent

[Picture: CNA]

Protesters dragged police and reporters into the crowd and beat them up, as violence erupted outside the Legislative Yuan in Taipei City, yesterday, April 25.

Up to 84 police, and 11 reporters were counted among the injured this morning, while one protester lost a finger when he came into contact with razor-wire, while attempting to break open the gate.

A retired soldier lost the little finger on his left hand yesterday, when he came into contact with razor-wire during a protest over public service pension reforms. Picture: 蔡正元 (Facebook).

Protesters threw smoke bombs and water bottles at police guarding the building, which houses Taiwan’s legislature. The protesters also, tried unsuccessfully, to hurl a wooden coffin over a fence and into the compound, while others attempted to pull the gates down using ropes and chains, according to AFP.

“We strongly condemn the serious violent actions by anti-pension groups and reiterate our determination to investigate (the violence)… we urge the public to use peaceful and rational means to express their opinions and refrain from breaking the law,” Taipei police said in a statement.

Taipei Times reported this morning that 32 police and 11 journalists had been injured as of press time last night. However, also this morning, Taiwan’s Chinese language media networks were reporting as many as 84 police injured.

Liberty Times Network showed dramatic video footage of a young policeman being dragged into the crowd and beaten, while other more level-headed protesters assisted the officer to get away.

At around 4:00pm, clashes broke out at the entrance to Taiwan National University Children’s Hospital. Reports say that nurses and patients panicked as police attempted to prevent the protesters from entering the hospital. Protesters, however, denied they were trying to enter, and said they were trying to push the police officers into the building, because the officers were attempting to disperse them.

The Ministry of Health and Welfare today issued a statement condemning the actions of the protesters at the hospital, saying that it seriously affected emergency, outpatients, and inpatients at the hospital.

Premier William Lai today condemned the violence against police and journalists and said that the protesters excessive actions were a threat to Taiwan’s democracy and the rule of law.

Pension cuts, which the government claims are necessary, otherwise the national pension scheme will go bankrupt by 2020, would set the minimum monthly pension at NT$38,990, and gradually phase out the 18 percent preferential interest rates enjoyed by some public servants, including retired military and police personnel.

The protests were organized by the Blue Sky Alliance, and the protesters marched under the banner of “800 Heroes.”

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