317 to 322: The Birth Of An Occupation

317 to 322: The Birth Of An Occupation

The complete timeline of the movement from 317 to 322

The Sunflower Movement occupation of the Legislative Yuan began as a result of the “120 Hours To Defend Democracy” (捍衛民主120小時) demonstration organized by the “Democratic Front” (民主陣線), a joint organization comprised of a number of civil society organizations. This was an emergency mobilization declared on 10:00 AM of March 17th in anticipation that the CSSTA would pass that day. Demonstrations against the CSSTA had occurred in previous years, particularly as pushed for by the Black Island Youth Front, starting from 2013, which led to civil society organizations demonstrating the bill. 

After the CSSTA was declared to be passed into law at 2:39 PM on March 17th by KMT legislator Chang Ching-Chung (張慶忠), the chair of the responsible committee for the bill, this proved further provocative of civil society. Reportedly, this occurred while Chang was hiding next to a bathroom, using a megaphone to make his announcement. This was labelled to be the “black box.” The statement declaring the beginning of the action can be read here. 

In line with the Taiwanese practice of sometimes referring to dates by the number of the month followed by the number of the day in the month (For example, an event which occurred on February 28th will be referred to as “228”), key dates of the movement will thereafter be referred to by number.

Photo credit: Kent chuang/Flickr/CC


  • A meeting about possible plans of action is held by the Black Island Youth, the Taiwan Rural Front, and the Protect Miaoli Society (捍苗青) at 4 PM at the offices of the Taiwan Society I台灣北社). [1]
  • Members of the “Democratic Front” included the Cross Strait Bill Oversight Association (兩岸協議檢查聯盟), the Taiwan Democracy Watch (台灣守護民主聯盟), the Taiwan Association for Human Rights (台灣人權促進會), the Taiwan Labour Front (台灣勞工陣線), the Awakening Foundation (婦女新知基金會), the Taiwan Association of University Professors (台灣教授會), the Anti-Media Monopoly Youth Alliance (反媒體巨獸青年聯盟), the Citizens of the Earth, Taiwan, *地球公民基金會), Green Citizens’ Action Alliance (綠色公民行動聯盟), and Citizen 1985 (公民1985行動聯盟). These comprised some of largest civil society groups in Taiwan. This was a total of 53 NGOs. [2]
  • The occupation began that night with the storming of the Legislative Yuan on the night of March 18th, then. Students began gathering outside the Legislative Yuan from the afternoon onwards, with speeches and and performances going until nightfall. At approximately, 9:15 PM, approximately fifty students charged the Legislative Yuan. At that point, a total of 400 individuals were on-site around the Legislative Yuan. In the resulting clash with the police, one police officer was injured and window broken, but there were relatively few injuries otherwise.
  • This was the product of plans to charge following a meeting held in the offices of the Taiwan Labour Front. Five or six groups met in the Labour Front’s offices, then dispersed to act as if everything was normal, gathering individuals together to suddenly charge at 9:15 PM following diversionary tactics to draw the attention of police.  

Assembled civil society groups on the night of 318. Photo credit: Brian Hioe
  • From there, news spread through social media and the Internet, leading to increasing numbers of students gathering on-site around the Legislative Yuan. Performances took place on-site, with songs sung at the occupation site including “Uprising”, “Let It Be,” Marching Forward (向前走), Peacefully Pursuing Your Beliefs (安平追想曲). [3] A declaration marking the start of the occupation, which can be read here, was issued. The rest is history, perhaps.
Primary Sources:


  • Elsewhere in Taiwan, on hearing news of the occupation that night, activists begin to take trains, buses, and other forms of transportation to head to the Legislative Yuan. In Kaohsiung, a solidarity action is held in Formosa Boulevard subway station of individuals holding their cell phones aloft. [4]
  • The initial group of students which had forced their way into the Legislative Yuan entered the legislative assembly chambers and barricaded themselves inside, although they only controlled the assembly chambers. For the duration of the occupation, occupiers only controlled the assembly chambers and not the rest of the set of buildings which comprise Legislative Yuan. The police made several concerted attempts to drive out students, these coming in waves at 3:30 AM, 5:20 AM, and 6:10 AM.

Demonstrators scaling the wall of the parking lot surrounding the Legislative Yuan. Photo credit: Brian Hioe
  • Yet the gathering numbers of demonstrators outside were cut off from the student occupiers within. Consequently, through the night, the crowd outside the Legislative Yuan gradually made several concerted efforts to force back police. This was ultimately successful, with demonstrators forcing down the gates of the Legislative Yuan and forcing police back from the parking lot of the Legislative Yuan.
  • One police officer is hospitalized in the course of this charge. This is not because of physical injury, but rather an asthma attack on the part of the officer.
  • Contact was able to be established with the students inside through a window on the side of the Legislative Yuan, accessible through a ladder placed on the balcony of the Legislative, and some were able to climb into the Legislative Yuan using this access point. For the duration of the occupation, this access point would prove a valuable means of communication and transporting personnel and supplies between the inside and outside of the Legislative Yuan, although on the first night, there was the risk that the balcony would collapse from the many individuals gathered on it.

The occupied Legislative Yuan parking lot. Photo credit: Brian Hioe
  • The moment that the movement gained its name as the “Sunflower Movement” took place in the parking lot of the Legislative Yuan, as sunflowers began to be handed out to all the occupiers.
  • Self-organization was rapid among occupiers, with the formation of a moderation working group, cleaning working group, supplies working group, recharging working group, medical team, legal team, and others. A division of labor was also devised between the participating NGOs. Students formulated a series of demands, calling for Ma Ying-Jeou (馬英九) to apologize, for the resignation of his premier, Jiang Yi-Huah (江宜樺), and the withdrawal of police from the Legislative Yuan, but these demands were ignored.  Perhaps this is all a testament to the capacities of self-organized social movements, then.
  • Members of NewseForum are present on-site and covers the initial occupation, but this is before the formal constitution of the group.
  • KMT members such as policy committee chief Lin Hung-chih (林鴻池), legislative caucus whip Wang Ting-son (王廷升), and caucus whip Alicia Wang (王育敏) condemn the movement as having secretly been organized by the DPP.

Occupiers on the rooftop of the Legislative Yuan on 320. Photo credit: Brian Hioe
  • In particular DPP heavyweights such as Tsai Ing-Wen (蔡英文), Frank Hsieh (謝長廷) , and Su Tseng-Chang (蘇貞昌), as a way to boost ratings. Tsai, Hsieh, and Yu Shyi-kun (游錫堃) had made appearances during the night in order to support students, reportedly negotiating with police about the treatment of students before leaving at 5 AM.
  • Scuffles occur between members of the TSU and the police.
  • DPP spokesperson Lin Chun-hsien (林俊憲) states that the party will provide aid for the movement, including food, water, and legal aid. DPP Department of Organization director Cheng Yun-peng (鄭運鵬) also states that over 6,000 DPP members are expected to join student demonstrators on 320. The DPP Central Standing Committee puts forth a counter-proposal reducing the scale of the CSSTA’s investment, but still signing an agreement with China.
  • Actor Huang Ho (黃河), entertainer Cheng Chia-chen (鄭佳甄), also known as “Chicken Cutlet Girl”, and musicians Deserts Chang (張懸), Crowd Lu (盧廣仲), and Chen Ming-chang (陳明章) make appearances at the encampment in order to show support for the movement. Variety show host Kevin Tsai (蔡康永) and Deserts Chang expresses support by posting on Facebook. Mayday (五月天) bassist, Masa (瑪莎), asks fans to meet him on-site, closing his coffee shop in Huashan 1914 Creative Park for the day.

“Democracy sausage” sellers. Photo credit: othree/Flickr/CC
  • A dozen motorcyclists ride motorcycles into the occupation encampment, arguing with occupiers before making their exit.
  • A number of professors from National Taiwan University, Shih Hsin University, and National Taiwan University of Arts express support for the movement, stating that they will not mark absent students attending demonstrations
  • Demonstration by 300 students in support of the movement in Providence, United States.
  • The Taipei District Court rules in favor of Wang Jinpyng (王金平) being allowed to remain a member of the KMT after the September Political Struggle.


Barricaded entrances to the Legislative Yuan assembly chamber. Photo credit: VOA
  • Wang Jinpyng (王金平) expresses a willingness to listen to student’s demands but not much more than that. Both Ma Ying-Jeou (馬英九), Jiang Yi-Huah (江宜樺), and Wang Jinpyng (王金平) affirm that the CSSTA must be passed. Wang, however, also states that police force will not be used to clear the students. [5] Wang had not appeared at a prior legislative meeting on the second day of the occupation, potentially indicating a split from the political mainstream of the KMT, given Wang’s membership in the “Taiwanese” faction of the KMT. Wang is seen as having influence over police actions at the legislature, as the majority speaker of the Legislative Yuan. Jiang in particular asserts that students are being manipulated by the DPP.
  • In order to oppose negative media reports on the occupation, students create a video about the movement entitled Oppose The Black Box CSSTA/The Genuine Facts About The “Rioters” (反黑箱服貿 / 暴民的真相) and post it to YouTube.
  • More than 5,000 individuals, mostly students, gather in the occupation encampment outside of the Legislative Yuan to listen to speeches, soapbox talks, and musical performances. Food vendors, booksellers, and other small vendors also gathered to sell their wares.

Photo credit: othree/Flickr/CC
  • The National Taiwan University Department of Social Sciences group began to offer their space as somewhere to organize and hold meetings outside of the Legislative Yuan occupation, although this was still nearby.
  • NewseForum formally forms coverage team for the movement.
  • More than 40 university professors hold “civic education classrooms” on-site in the occupation encampment.
  • DPP chair Su Tseng-Chang (蘇貞昌) calls on the KMT to apologize for the CSSTA, stating that the DPP has begun mobilizing over 10,000 members to participate in demonstrations.
  • Representatives of groups including the General Chamber of Commerce and the Chinese National Association of Industry and Commerce and Taiwanese business groups in China, such as the Association of Taiwan Investment Enterprises on the Mainland, urge for the passage of the CSSTA.


  • High profile visits to the Legislative Yuan take place, including visits by then-DPP chair Su Tseng-Chang (蘇貞昌), former DPP chair Tsai Ing-Wen (蔡英文), and controversial democracy activist Shih Ming-Teh (施明德).
  • With the agreement of the student occupiers, Shih Ming-Teh’s (施明德) daughter, Shih Mi-Na (施蜜娜), writes the slogan “When dictatorship is a fact, revolution is a duty” in calligraphy on the side of the Legislative Yuan, something which is adopted as a slogan of the movement, and originally taken from the 1974 Carnation Revolution in Portugal.

“When dictatorship is a fact, revolution is a duty”. Photo credit: Brian Hioe

Photo credit: othree/Flickr/CC
  • Some controversy occurs within the movement, however, with the refusal of Citizen 1985 to turn over responsibilities for managing order within the occupation space to the NTU Department of Social Sciences group.
  • Police security around the Legislative Yuan occupation expanded.
  • Ma Ying-Jeou (馬英九) holds an academic conference, leading to criticisms from Lin Fei-Fan (林飛帆) for disregarding the movement. Students vow to expand the protests in retaliation.
  • Ma invokes Article 44 of the ROC constitution to call Wang Jinpyng (王金平) and Jiang Yi-Hua (江宜樺) to a meeting, which states that the president of the ROC may call a meeting to resolve disputes between the five yuans. Wang declines to attend, stating that this would be improper for a legislative speaker, and urging Ma to listen to public opinion. Tsai Ing-Wen (蔡英文) of the DPP defends Wang’s actions on a legal basis.
  • National Security Council secretary-general-elect King Pu-tsung (金溥聰) declares the occupation of the legislature to be an act of violence which would never be tolerated in other countries, such as the United States.
  • Spokesperson Lin Hung-chih (林鴻池) of the KMT states that the party would be open to a line by line review of the CSSTA.
  • Attempts to hold demonstration encircling KMT branches in various parts of Taiwan.
  • The section of the Parade and Assembly Act (集會遊行法) necessitating advance notice for outdoor demonstrations is struck down by the Council of Grand Justices in a case originating from the Wild Strawberry Movement, but when asked, it is stated that this does not apply to the Legislative Yuan occupation as an indoor protest.

The occupied podium of the Legislative Yuan’s assembly chamber. Photo credit: VOA
  • Actors Lego Lee (李國毅), Chris Wu (吳慷仁), and Tiffany Hsu (許瑋甯) express support for the movement on social media.
  • Overseas demonstrations in Cambridge, Massachusetts, Toronto, and Vancouver are held in support of the movement.
  • Kaohsiung residents hold rally in the Pier 2 Art Center in support of the movement. [6]


  • A sense of unease has set in regarding what steps the movement should take in order to further advance. As one such action in this vein, thirty students demonstrate in front of KMT headquarters, but this does not draw significant public attention. Members of the Department of Social Sciences group urge further action, but this is rejected by some NGO groups for fear that this would be to move ahead without any consensus. Still, discussions had already taken in previous days within the Legislative Yuan about what escalating actions could be taken in the lack of any government response.
  • Discourse about the 1985-ization of the movement, with regard to the view that the movement has become overly bureaucratic in the manner of past events organized by Citizen 1985.
Photo credit: othree/Flickr/CC
  • At 4 PM, Ma Ying-Jeou (馬英九) holds a press conference expressing continued support of the CSSTA.
  • Premier Jiang Yi-Huah (江宜樺) visits the Legislative Yuan at approximately 3 PM, leading to Lin Fei-Fan, Chen Wei-Ting (陳為廷), and Huang Kuo-Chang (黃國昌) to engage in dialogue with him outside of the Legislative Yuan. But talks break down rapidly. 12,000 individuals are gathered in the vicinity of the Legislative Yuan at this point and divisions are rapidly emerging in the movement.
  • The KMT states that it will boycott legislature until students withdraw from the Legislative Yuan. The KMT caucus calls on Wang Jinpyng (王金平) to take more decisive action on the issue. This is perceived as another sign of continued political conflict between Ma and Wang. This occurs in spite of the DPP sending out a notice for a committee review of the CSSTA.
  • Former president Lee Teng-Hui (李登輝) calls on Ma to face protests and to sit down and talk with students, following statements by the Presidential Office that Ma will not engage in dialogue with students.
  • Ma Ying-Jeou (馬英九) cancels a planned visit to the Taiwan Metal Creation Museum in Tainan following police reports that over 1,000 demonstrators were expected to demonstrate against him at the visit.

Photo credit: othree/Flickr/CC
  • King Pu-Tsung (金溥聰), Taiwan’s representative to the United States, states that US experts and policymakers are carefully monitoring passage of the CSSTA. Former secretary-general of the National Security Council and KMT member, Su Chi (蘇起), states that the government needs to do more to reduce fear of China in Taiwan.
  • Business groups such as the Chinese National Federation of Industries and General Chamber of Commerce urge students to withdraw from the Legislative Yuan.
  • May Day (五月天) comes under fire from Chinese fans for Masa’s (瑪莎) support of the occupation, leading to statements from band members that they never stated they were against the trade pact.
  • The Taiwan Railways Administration receives its largest order for lunch boxes in its history, totaling 136,000 NT, with an order placed in the morning for 2,000 lunch boxes to be delivered by noon to the Legislative Yuan encampment for students to eat lunch. This is moved to the Legislative Yuan encampment from Taipei Main Station by 60 students.
  • According to police, a volunteer worker at the Legislative Yuan is slashed by a teenager playing with knives with two friends on the occupation site. At night, a drunken old man in the Legislative Yuan occupation site makes bomb threats.

The Legislative Yuan encampment on 322. Photo credit: othree/Flickr/CC
  • Taipei mayor Hau Lung-Bin (郝龍斌) states that he does not plan on removing Legislative Yuan occupiers by force, citing the constitutional interpretation of the Council of Grand Justices several days earlier.
  • Su Tseng-Chang (蘇貞昌) apologizes for backlash against the DPP attempting to use demonstrations as a campaign rally on 321.
  • Demonstrations take place outside KMT party headquarters in Kaohsiung, Taichung, Miaoli County, and other locations.


Next in Timeline:


[1] Ye Baixiang 葉柏祥.  Zhexie taiyang hua xuesheng jiao women de shi:24 Tang jietou shang de minzhu ke 這些太陽花學生教我們的事:24堂街頭上的民主課. Fei bian she wen chuang youxian gongsi 費邊社文創有限公司, Taipei (2014). Print. P. 124. 
[2] Chen Shunxiao 陳順孝. “Wang lu gongmin xingdong de jiti yanhua: Cong qiangjiu le sheng yuan, ye caomei yundong dao taiyang hua yundong” 網路公民行動的集體演化:從搶救樂生院、野草莓運動到太陽花運動” in Sunflower Movement, New Citizenry, and New Media 我是公民也是媒體:太陽花與新媒體實踐. Edited by Chen-Ling Hung 洪貞玲. Locus Publishing 大塊文化出版社, Taipei (2015). Print. P. 1.
[3] Ye Baixiang 葉柏祥.  Zhexie taiyang hua xuesheng jiao women de shi:24 Tang jietou shang de minzhu ke 這些太陽花學生教我們的事:24堂街頭上的民主課. Fei bian she wen chuang youxian gongsi 費邊社文創有限公司, Taipei (2014). Print. P. 177.
[4] Qiu Yubin 邱毓斌, Lin Chuankai 林傳凱, Xie Ruidi, 謝芮娣. “Taiyang hua yundong fasheng zai taibei de lifayuan, dan wo kanjian laizi quan tai de shengyuan, huiliui yu xingdong” 太陽花運動發生在台北的立法院,但我看見來自全台的聲援、匯流與行動 in Cong women de yanjiang kanjian daoyu tianguang: Taiyang hua yundong, wo lai, wo kanjian 從我們的眼睛看見島嶼天光:太陽花運動,我來,我看見. Route Culture 有鹿文化, Taipei (2014). Print. P. 274.
[5] Chen Shunxiao 陳順孝. “Wang lu gongmin xingdong de jiti yanhua: Cong qiangjiu le sheng yuan, ye caomei yundong dao taiyang hua yundong 網路公民行動的集體演化:從搶救樂生院、野草莓運動到太陽花運動” in Sunflower Movement, New Citizenry, and New Media 我是公民也是媒體:太陽花與新媒體實踐. Edited by Chen-Ling Hung 洪貞玲. Locus Publishing 大塊文化出版社, Taipei (2015). Print. P. 2.
Qiu Yubin 邱毓斌, Lin Chuankai 林傳凱, Xie Ruidi, 謝芮娣. “Taiyang hua yundong fasheng zai taibei de lifayuan, dan wo kanjian laizi quan tai de shengyuan, huiliui yu xingdong” 太陽花運動發生在台北的立法院,但我看見來自全台的聲援、匯流與行動 in Cong women de yanjiang kanjian daoyu tianguang: Taiyang hua yundong, wo lai, wo kanjian 從我們的眼睛看見島嶼天光:太陽花運動,我來,我看見. Route Culture 有鹿文化, Taipei (2014). Print. P. 277.   


The occupied Legislative Yuan assembly chamber. Photo credit: VOA