Until Tyranny Is Defeated, Hong Kong Must Stand

38th May 20, 2020

Remembering what we stand for, and those who stood for us

As malls are once again filled with the sound of protest anthems, streets once again set ablaze by molotov cocktails, and rifles once again pointed at journalists [1], Hongkongers are back, even amidst the Coronavirus pandemic.

Set Ablaze by Tyranny

This movement is first and foremost a response to tyranny. Hong Kong is so embroiled in crisis not because Hongkongers like to pull a “scorched earth”. Rather, it is because the government would not listen to the citizens’ peaceful pleas.

“The bill will continue its second reading on 12 June”, read the government response to the 1-million march on June 9 [2]. One week later, there were 2 million on the streets. Yet, the government did not respond to the “Five Demands” that have gained widespread public support [3]. They banned peaceful protests and stripped citizens of their right of assembly.

But still, Hongkongers found ways to protest in peace. Sit-ins at the Airport, “Lennon Walls”, a human chain that stretched from one end of the city to another, a “flowing rally” of 1.8 million in August... A campaign of hope and peace, as strong as it got, once again fell on deaf ears.

“It was you who taught us that peaceful protests are useless.” To truly gain leverage, we have turned to more radical forms of protests. Ablaze in the fire of molotov cocktails, the braver ones among us walk on, knowing that at any moment tear gas canisters, batons, water cannons, and live bullets may be coming their way.

In November, the sieges of PolyU and CUHK turned our city into a battleground. While 90s’ Cantopop was playing one block away, the students trapped in PolyU faced the imminent threat of a violent siege of the campus [4]. It seemed like Tiananmen Square 2.0. All these sacrifices, for what? For the rights promised to us 23 years ago!

We stand in response to a tyranny. A tyranny that has since taken advantage of the epidemic to further clamp down on our rights, ignoring public demands of closing our borders with China, rewriting our constitution to give Beijing grounds for intervention [5], using social distancing rules to harass anti-government businesses and arrest protestors [6]. People finally realise that neither peaceful protests and the epidemic that threatens the lives of all citizens can stop the government from pushing their agenda.

Taking our stand is the only way for Hongkongers to even have any leverage against the government. And without it, we will be left with nothing, but a government determined on ignoring people’s demands and depriving us of freedoms and rights.

When Rules Don’t Protect the People

Lest us forget, the crumbling rule of law in selective law enforcement, political persecution and judiciary loyal to the regime.

On July 21, a mob of white-shirts stormed into a railway station, attacking passengers who had mostly returned from a protest. During these long 39 minutes, over 20,000 calls were made to the emergency hotline, yet the police chose to shut their doors and told callers that, “if you are so afraid, you shouldn’t have gone out.” Two hours later, police commanders were seen resting near a village where the mobs live.

Since then, flag-waving “patriots” have been getting away with breaking the law and starting fights with pro-democracy activists. From the Kowloon Bay incidents in September last year [7], to the Lok Fu Lennon Wall just earlier this month [8], protestors have been arrested and beaten up, while “patriotic” aggressors are instead “pacified” or let go by the police.

In choosing to only enforce the law on protesters, the Rule of Law no longer protects the safety of all. The police have taken a side, and ignored their responsibility to maintain justice and public order. Meanwhile, the prosecutors and courts have also taken sides.

While only seven members of the mob from the July 21 Incident were persecuted, about 1000 protestors have been put on trial only as of December last year. Meanwhile, judges have come clean of their political loyalties: Judge Kwok Wai-Kin infamously sympathised with a criminal convicted of stabbing a protestor as an “involuntary sacrifice” [9], showing the extent of judicial politicisation in Hong Kong.

Remembering Those Who Stood for Us

As a response to tyranny, a crumbling rule of law and the institutional violence the HKSAR government has inflicted on Hongkongers, we have taken a stand. Today, as these attacks continue, we must stand our ground, even during the Coronavirus epidemic.

Finally, let us remember the sacrifices of countless unnamed Hongkongers. Facing a police force that would use live shots to those unarmed, burn spines with thousand-degrees hot tear gas canisters, block ambulances from saving lives even when one falls unconscious: protestors, first-aiders and journalists took their stand bravely for justice. Raped by the police and forced to get an abortion, tied to the legs of a table, blindfolded, and beaten by batons, being hit so hard that his hands was no longer connected by bones, those arrested have suffered way too many for a right for us to be heard. And for those who died for the cause of freedom, numerous having committed suicide, ‘been committed suicide’, and killed in the clashes, we must not forget.

As we remember those who still face this fear and horror every day, just to fight our freedom, we must take a stand. And until tyranny is defeated, we must remain.


Reference

[1] 恆大編委, 10/5/2020
[2] ‘Government response to procession’, HKSAR Government, 9/6/2019
[3] ‘Our research in Hong Kong reveals what people really think of the protesters – and the police’, The Independent, 16/10/2019
[4] Fears run high after Police seal off Hong Kong Polytechnic University, threaten lethal force, New Bloom Magazine (Taiwan), 18/11/2019
[5] Beijing’s effort to bring Hong Kong to heel reaches new levels of Orwellian brazenness, Kent Ewing (Hong Kong Free Press), 27/4/2020
[6] Hong Kong police clear protesters from luxury mall, issuing fines for social distancing violations, Hong Kong Free Press, 29/4/2020
[7] Fights break out in Amoy Plaza between rivals, RTHK, 14/9/2019
[8] Ten arrested over Lok Fu 'Lennon Wall' attack, RTHK, 8/5/2020
[9] Hong Kong protests: Jailed man gets judge's sympathy for stabbing, BBC, 25/4/2020
[10] Hong Kong: Arbitrary arrests, brutal beatings and torture in police detention revealed, Amnesty International, 19/9/2019



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