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May 26, 2017

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Violence erupts at Legislature

Physical conflict, ranging from legislators doused with water to a deputy mayor shoved into barbed wire — broke out Wednesday as anti-pension reform protesters tried to block pro-reform lawmakers from entering the Legislative Yuan.

The demonstrators, who had been camped out outside the Legislature since Tuesday, congregated at Qingdao East Road to prevent pan-green lawmakers from entering the compound.

While most of the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) lawmakers had headed inside the building earlier that morning, having received warning that the demonstrators would try to keep them out, several had to push through the throng.

Among the latecomers were DPP lawmakers Wang Ding-yu, Tsai Yi-yu and Chuang Rui-hsiung, who were not only violently shoved but also chased and struck by angry protesters.

Police officers eventually managed to form two parallel lines through the crowd, between which the lawmakers and their aides were able to get inside the premises.

New Power Party Legislator Hsu Yung-ming managed to enter the Judiciary and Organic Laws and Statutes Committee meeting that was to review the bill, but only after being doused with water and having his suit coat stripped away by angry protesters.

He said the protesters' actions "constitute as a mob beating."

Journalists were also targeted. Some were obstructed from doing their jobs, while others were physically attacked or found themselves in shouting matches with angry protesters, who accused the media of being partial.

The windshield of a SET News broadcast van was also smashed.

Although the DPP lawmakers arrived to urgent calls from demonstrators for them to be blocked, most opposition Kuomintang (KMT) lawmakers and those affiliated with them were greeted with fanfare.

But not every KMT lawmaker received such a welcome.

Legislator Lin Wei-chou was initially barred entry by protesters, who demanded to know why he had proposed his own pension reform bill.

They made way to allow Lin entry only after he had explained that his proposal was already axed during a caucus party conference.

Caught in the Crossfire

Several city mayors and county magistrates, mostly DPP-affiliated, also found themselves on the receiving end of physical assault Wednesday as they headed for a public hearing on the government-initiated"Forward-looking Infrastructure Development Plan."

The local leaders were chased down and hit by protesters, despite having no apparent connection to the pension reform bill review. Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je was speaking to reporters when protesters charged him, landing several punches. New Taipei City Deputy Mayor Charles Lin was bloodied after using his hands to brace himself when shoved into a barbed-wire barricade.

Arrests Made, More Possible

The National Police Agency (NPA) said some demonstrators had been arrested on site, while another 11 cases of vandalism and assault were being looked into.

NPA Director-General Chen Kuo-en said police officers had done well in managing to prevent the protests from degenerating completely.

He urged anti-pension reform protesters to use rational and peaceful efforts to convey their opinions.

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