As a mainlander I’ll stand by Hong Kong’s protesters till the dawn of democracy

Letter to Hong Kong Students: Tonight I Picked a Side

As a mainlander in Hong Kong, I constantly feel the prejudice and ill will against us but also understand the helplessness that underlies these feelings. For many years, I have lived with the awkwardness of being stuck between two worlds; but tonight I picked a side. Tonight I stand by you, because you are doing what I never dared to dream. Continue reading

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Hong Kong protest: Thousands on streets for fresh rally

It comes after the territory’s deputy leader called off talks with student leaders scheduled for Friday.

Carrie Lam said the students’ refusal to end their protest had made “constructive dialogue” impossible. Continue reading

Hong Kong Cancels Talks With Students

Hong Kong Chief Secretary Says ‘Foundation for Talks’ Shaken

By JASON CHOW And CHESTER YUNG

HONG KONG—This city’s government scrapped negotiations with students a day before they were scheduled to take place, a sign the administration is taking a harder line with the protesters, whose numbers have dwindled in the nearly two-week standoff.

The government’s unilateral decision Thursday appeared to double-down on its strategy of letting the protesters continue their sit-ins until they wore out or public opinion turned against them. The move puts pressure on the students to justify their occupation, which has choked traffic and dealt a blow to local businesses. Continue reading

Commentary: The Hong Kong pro-democracy movement compared to other nonviolent freedom struggles, part 2

In my last piece, I compared the Hong Kong democracy movement to other nonviolent freedom struggles, focusing on three ultimately successful ones, the Indian independence struggle, the US civil rights movement, and the eastern European fight against Communist dictatorship. While these movements are today regarded retrospectively as successes, we noted that what they have in common is that 1) they took decades to accomplish their aims and 2) they required a deus ex machina beyond their control as a catalyst for realization of their aims (respectively, World War II, Lyndon Baines Johnson and Gorbachev). The conclusion drawn from the comparison is that freedom struggles are often long, hard and uncertain, and rarely are freedom struggles powerful enough in themselves to accomplish their aims; they usually need other forces to align with their interests. Those struggling for freedom must persevere even when the outcome appears highly uncertain and distant. They must continue to exist until the opportune moment.

Today I look at some ‘failed’ freedom struggles, namely China ‘89, Iran ’77-‘79, Burma ’88-’90, and Egypt ’11-present. Note that all four of those countries are still ruled by authoritarian regimes.

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Exam Review: Hong Kong’s Occupy Central with Love and Peace

Justin Tse | 29 August 2014 | Religon. Ethnicity. Wired.

Things are heating up over there in Hong Kong over the movement known as Occupy Central with Love and Peace. There’s going to be a rally on August 31 to deliberate over what sorts of acts of civil disobedience the movement will take in response to Beijing’s newly proposed framework for Hong Kong’s electoral reform. This is because while the Occupy Central movement put forward a proposal for Chief Executive candidates to be determined by civil nomination, Beijing has de facto rejected the proposal by insisting on choosing the candidates. Universal suffrage, however, seems to be still on the table. All of this comes on the heels of an anti-Occupy Central rally that was held in Central, as well as several seemingly political investigations of pro-democracy legislators. To add even more alarm in terms of the parallels to the Beijing Spring in Tiananmen Square in 1989, armoured vehicles have been reported to be entering Hong Kong from China.

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Civil Disobedience 101 Hong Kong Style

Rich Scotford | 26 Aug 2014 | China Op-eds

It looks increasingly likely that some form of civil disobedience campaign will take place in Hong Kong in the near future. Political reform is now turning into a high-stakes game pitting the desires of significant proportions of the Hong Kong public, who wish for a credible democracy, against the might and coercive strength of the Communist Party of China (CPC), which is used to getting its own way, eventually.

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Benny Tai: The rationale of Occupy Central is the pursuit of justice

Original published in Apple Daily on 26 August 2014: Read original
Translation on 28 August 2014

The real problem is not the alarm bell, but rather the fire.  It is still burning out there even without any alarm.  The loud alarm goes on just because of the fire, which is the root cause of the problem.  Those who ring the alarm bells, which are very loud indeed, are not trying to create disturbances but are actually trying to warn the occupants instead of fleeing himself.  What is really ridiculous is that the determination, courage and decisiveness are not used to put off the fire but rather used against the one who notices the fire and rings the alarm bells.  I could not help but ask: “What the heck is the rationale behind?”

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Police ‘perform second major drill over Occupy Central’

Samuel Chan | 20 August 2014 | South China Morning Post

Almost 10 per cent of the 28,000-strong police force gathered yesterday as units from across the city took part in what is understood to have been the second major exercise to prepare for the Occupy Central civil disobedience campaign.

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Anti-Occupy march as much a product of political dysfunction as pro-democracy protests

Larry Au | 18 August 2014 | SCMP

Larry Au says understanding the contradictory motivation behind the increasing use of street protests in Hong Kong – whether pro-government or pro-democracy – will help to break the vicious cycle of escalation.

If the government is truly concerned about the continued viability of our political institutions, it must ensure an equitable outcome that makes protests – whether pro-democracy or pro-government – no longer necessary. Imagine that: a government that listens to and reflects the will of the people.

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On the Alliance for Peace and Democracy petition and 8/17 demonstration

Original published in OCLP website on 17 August 2014
Translation on 18 August 2014

We respect each and every citizen who voluntarily participated the signature campaign and demonstration, and also understand their worries.  We reiterate that occupying Central is only the last resort and, if happens, will definitely be peaceful and non-violent.  Just like the 2 July sit-in by 511 protestors at Chater Road, there will not be any confrontation with the police.  Continue reading

A Human Rights Defence of Hong Kong’s Occupy Central

Mattias Cheung | 16 August 2014 | Oxford Human Rights Hub

With the Hong Kong Government set on introducing an undemocratic electoral reform in the coming months, Professor Benny Tai has proposed to organise a peaceful assembly, ‘Occupy Central with Love and Peace’. It has been condemned and denounced as an affront to the rule of law.

The background to this saga is the Hong Kong Government’s proposed electoral reforms. With the imprimatur of Beijing in 2007, the Government now plans to introduce universal suffrage for Chief Executive (head of government) elections, but candidates must be nominated by an unaccountable nominating committee. This carries the imminent risk that ‘undesirable’ candidates will be screened out, contrary to Article 26 of the Basic Law and Article 25 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (‘ICCPR’).

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The Power of the Powerless: Hong Kong’s Last Stand

Kong Tsung-gan | 14 August 2014 | Hong Wrong

As astro-turfing groups plan a pro-government rally this weekend, pro-democracy activist Kong Tsung-gan examines why some form of nonviolent direct action will be necessary for Hong Kong’s democracy movement.

In any freedom struggle, much of the struggle is between not only the oppressed and their oppressor but between the oppressed themselves, some of whom side with the oppressor, and within each of the oppressed, who in struggling against their oppressor also struggle against the voices within themselves that tell them to unconditionally obey authority or that there must be something wrong with them if they have such a grievance against ‘the way things are’, or that even if there is something wrong, it is utterly futile to fight it.  The fault lines are many.  Such is the case in the Hong Kong freedom struggle.  This is the result of Hong Kong’s history as a colony and an immigrant society.

In the entirety of its modern history, from the start of British colonial rule in 1842 up to today (when Hong Kong is essentially under a new colonial rule of the Chinese Communist Party), Hong Kong has always been a colony and never been a democracy.  Like the rest of China, it has no democratic tradition.  Much of the current freedom struggle involves building the democratic culture Hong Kong has never had from the ground up.  Creating culture, changing culture is by no means an overnight process.  It takes time.  The question is, Does Hong Kong have the time it takes? (More about that question in a moment.)

The process of democratic cultural change involves people transforming themselves from subjects ruled by others—which Hong Kong people have always been—to citizens who rule themselves.  This means changing the way we see ourselves.  It does not mean, in the first instance, the subjects ask the ruler for citizenship rights, for the ruler will not freely grant them.  It means the subjects refuse to any longer act as subjects and instead act as citizens, demanding their full rights as citizens, demanding ownership of the society that is rightfully ours, taking our fate into our own hands.  In the midst of the struggle for genuine universal suffrage in Hong Kong, this is what is occurring.  (But again, does Hong Kong have the time it takes?)

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Chan Kin-Man: Civil disobedience is not our problem. Our problem is civil obedience.

Speech at 2 August 2014 demonstration outside of Wanchai Police Headquarters, Hong Kong
Original published on OCLP Facebook Page on 5 August 2014: Read original

The participants in today’s rally at Police Headquarters are paying tribute to our friends of the July 2 sit-in. We thank them for their fight for democracy, their self-sacrifice in bringing hope to Hong Kong, and for their demonstration of nonviolent, peaceful civil disobedience.

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Benny Tai: Letter to Hong Kong Frontline Police

Original published in Apple Daily on 14 July 2014: Read Original
Translation on 15 July 2014

Dear frontline police officers in Hong Kong,

511 citizens were removed and arrested after more than a thousand people participated in the sit-in at the Charter Road pedestrian precinct during the early morning of 2nd July. Here I commend the frontline police officers on carrying out their duties in a professional and restrained manner, which proves that the frontline police force in Hong Kong meets international standards. Continue reading

AI: HK mass arrests send ‘disturbing signal for future protests’

2 July 2014 | Deutsche Welle

Hong Kong police arrested over 500 protesters who staged a sit-in after a pro-democracy rally, described as the city’s largest in years. In a DW interview, AI’s Mabel Au slams the police action as hasty and unnecessary.

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Amnesty International: Stop pursuing charges against peaceful protesters

2 July 2014 | Amnesty International

Petition

Dear Secretary Yuen,

I’m writing to urge the Hong Kong government to drop all investigations and criminal proceedings against peaceful protesters in conjunction with events on 1 and 2 July.

The twenty-five protesters, most of them students, under investigation for “illegal assembly”, “organizing and assisting in an illegal assembly” and “obstruction in a public place” and the five members of Civil Human Rights Front, who organized the 1 July march and are also under investigation, were only peacefully exercising their human rights to freedom of assembly and freedom of expression.

Hong Kong is bound by the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) to respect and protect the rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly. These rights are protected by Articles 19 and 21 of the ICCPR, respectively and also Article 27 of the Hong Kong Basic Law, sometimes referred to as Hong Kong’s mini-constitution.

The Hong Kong police labelled the assembly as an “illegal assembly” as the organizers of the sit-in protest did not apply for “a letter of no objection” in accordance with Hong Kong’s Public Order Ordinance. However, the requirement to apply for “a letter of no objection” runs counter to the international human rights law, which does not require advance approval for holding a peaceful assembly.

I would like to remind you of the concluding observations of the UN Human Rights Committee following its consideration of Hong Kong’s report to the Committee on its implementation of the ICCPR in 2013. The Committee raised concerns that ‘the application in practice of certain terms contained in the Public Order Ordinance, inter alia, “disorder in public places” or “unlawful assembly”, which may facilitate excessive restriction to the Covenant rights’ and recommended that Hong Kong should ensure that the implementation of the Public Order Ordinance is in conformity with the Covenant.

Yours sincerely,