TAIPEI - Taiwanese protesters ended their occupation of parliament Thursday, three weeks after taking over the main chamber to protest a contentious trade pact with China.
"We came here with ideals, now we leave with more burden," student leader Lin Fei-fan said at a press briefing shortly before dozens of demonstrators clad in black t-shirts walked out of the building at around 1000 GMT.
Holding sunflowers, the symbol of the movement, the protesters - mostly young students - were surrounded and warmly greeted by thousands of supporters as they moved out of the building.
"The departure does not mean we are giving up," Lin said, while pledging to press on with the protest against the controversial trade pact.
The demonstrators occupied the main chamber of parliament on March 18 in the island's first-ever such protest.
The sit-in came to an end after parliament's Speaker Wang Jin-pyng pledged not to preside over further debate on the trade pact until a law has been introduced to monitor such agreements with China - a key demand of the protesters.
But they have vowed to push on with their campaign to force the ruling Kuomintang party to retract the trade deal, a demand which President Ma Ying-jeou has flatly rejected.