The developed countries have enjoyed a certain degree of “world peace” for several decades. Worldwide military conflicts akin to the scale of World War Two have become a mere section of history textbooks. Bloody battlefields in countries such as Syria and Iraq are often camouflaged by the gigantic number of refugees.
Our generation has been detached from the fact that wars have never left us. Wars do not necessarily mean conflicts between two countries. A nation’s army may be assembled to fight the outside enemies, but a regime’s police is to subdue its citizens.
All of a sudden, police tactics such as neck holds (or knee-on-neck restraint) have become a taboo at least in the West.
However controversial it is, police around the world has been employing cruel tactics against protestors. On top of neck holds, kettling, which is a police tactic to trap a group of people to restrict their mobility often for hours, is also a commonly employed practice around the world.
According to American Civil Liberties Union, on the day of President Donald Trump’s inauguration in 2017, more than 200 protestors were denied food, water and access to toilets during the police kettle. People were also met with pepper spray, tear gas, flash-bang grenades, smoke flares and invasive bodily searches.
In early June 2020, the New York Police Department kettled more than 5,000 protestors on the Manhattan Bridge for several hours. It was widely reported as a mass punishment for the peaceful Black Lives Matter protest. The public denounced the incident and continued to lobby for divesting funds from police departments.
Sarcastically this forceful tactic and neck holds, together with shooting a schoolboy at close range last October and many other incidents, are always justified as “self-defense” by the authority in Hong Kong. Simply put, “police brutality” never appears in the authority’s glossary.
A War Declared on the Internal “Evil”
To a government which was not elected in a fair manner, it seems to have every right to suppress the internal opposition. In front of the world, the regime demonises this wave of opposition as “foreign influences”.
The regime seeks to limit the internal opposition, because it knows they must be defeated at all costs, lest the regime might be overthrown. This is how authoritarianism works. Regimes have to be the truth and anything else that deviates from the official stance has to be evil and deceitful.
To sustain their power, the regime ruthlessly eliminates dissidents. The police is their army. Individuals who have reasonable doubts are immediately branded “the enemies of the people”.
To attack, one does not have to bring in the tanks. Most of the time, the army disguises itself as the self-righteous “league of justice”.
Reasonable Doubt = Resistance = Evil = Enemy to be eliminated
Our generation is so distant from the frontline in military conflicts that we tend to misunderstand the obvious fact: in a war, every effort is an act of bravery. No use of force is excessive in a battlefield. Condemning “brutality” means nothing to the offensive side nor the defensive side in wars. Perhaps this is the reason why the term does not exist in the authority’s glossary.
What is happening in this city is not simply a clash of political opinions. The tactics and propaganda speak for themselves – this is a war.