Hong Kong protesters cancel referendum

Pro-democracy demonstrators scrap vote on the next step in campaign, and apologise for lack of consultation

The Guardian, Sunday 26 October 2014

The leaders of Hong Kong’s pro-­democracy protests cancelled a vote on what the next step should be in their month-long street ­occupation, saying they had not consulted the ­demonstrators properly before calling the referendum.

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Hong Kong protesters plan spot referendum over government talks

The Guardian, Friday 24 October 2014

Pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong plan to hold a spot referendum on Sunday on whether to stay in the streets or accept government offers for more talks and clear their protest camps.

The three main groups behind the demonstrations said on Thursday they would register public opinion at the main downtown protest site, where thousands remain camped out.

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Poles apart

18 August 2014 | The Economist

NOWHERE in the world, it seems, are demonstrators so hard to count as in Hong Kong. This was true even under British rule. Under Chinese sovereignty since 1997, Hong Kong’s arithmetic has got even harder. When untold thousands took to the streets on July 1st for what has become an annual march demanding full democracy for the special administrative region of China, the police estimated 98,600 people took part. The organisers reckoned more than five times as many braved the heat to raise their voices against the local government.

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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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An Introduction to the Chief Executive Electoral Reform Debate

Alvin Y. H. Cheung | 25 July 2014 | Human Rights in China

Seventeen years after China’s resumption of sovereignty over Hong Kong, the former British colony has returned to the spotlight. The debate over reforms to the process for selecting the city’s next Chief Executive in 2017 has reached fever pitch. Democracy advocates are rallying behind the “Occupy Central” civil disobedience movement; authorities in Beijing have responded by threatening suppression by the People’s Liberation Army. But what is the argument about, and what is truly at stake?

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Human Rights Watch: China/Hong Kong: Make Report Reflect Democracy Demands

14 July 2014 | Human Rights Watch

“The chief executive’s report should reflect the desire for greater political rights so clearly articulated by people in Hong Kong in recent weeks,” said Sophie Richardson, China director. “Failure to accurately reflect the views of Hong Kong’s people will make a mockery of this exercise, and risk further galvanizing public sentiment.”

“It’s in the interests of Hong Kong and Beijing governments to expand political rights in the territory,” Richardson said. “Curtailing rights is not only anachronistic, but also likely to increase tensions and alienation among the people of Hong Kong, who have waited patiently for years for the realization of the promise that ‘Hong Kong people rule Hong Kong.’”

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So-called referendum deceptive and dangerous

Song Sio-Chong | 25 June 2014 | China Daily

The “Occupy Central” campaign supporters have asked the Hong Kong public to select from three proposals, each of which includes an element of civil nomination for the Chief Executive in the 2017 election. This is a deceptive tactic – undemocratically decided upon – by the civil disobedience movement. They also plan to lead a massive occupation of Central to paralyze the financial heart of the city. The organizers believe this will make the central government bend to local pressure.

They must be dreaming if they think the central government, which has made the “One Country Two Systems” policy such a success, will give in to an unlawful movement. The One Country, Two Systems policy and the arrangements for universal suffrage outlined in the Basic Law are legitimate and justified. So any movement opposing them has to be illegitimate and unjustified.

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Hong Kong will always be part of China

Eric Sommer | 25 June 2014 | China Daily

A large number of Hong Kong residents are taking part in an informal – mainly Internet-based – poll to “determine” whether they want to have a more direct say in nominating candidates for the post of Hong Kong’s “chief executive” in future elections. More than 700,000 Hong Kong residents had voted until the third day of the 10-day “referendum” organized by “Occupy Central” forces.

The central government agrees to universal suffrage in future Hong Kong elections, but has denounced the poll as “illegal” and “invalid”, and emphasized that “the high degree of autonomy of the Hong Kong Special Administration Region is not full autonomy, nor a decentralized power … the Hong Kong people who govern Hong Kong should above all be patriotic.”

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Hong Kong’s democratic aspirations are no farce

David Pilling | 25 June 2014 | Financial Times

Ever since Hong Kong was handed back to China in 1997 by British colonisers, an unresolved question has hung like smog over the city. Would it eventually be able to elect its representatives?

Hong Kong’s “mini-constitution” states the ultimate aim is for the city to choose its leadership by universal suffrage, not a bad concession given its decidedly undemocratic history under British rule. Beijing subsequently agreed in principle to the idea that Hong Kong’s mayor, known as the chief executive, could be popularly elected in 2017, and its Legislative Council in 2020. Yet what Beijing means by “universal suffrage” and what democracy advocates in Hong Kong mean by it are – surprise, surprise – not the same thing. The gap in interpretation threatens to put Beijing and Hong Kong on a dangerous collision course.


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Beijing’s Catch-22

Mark C. Eades | 25 June 2014 | Financial Times

A 10-day unofficial pro-democracy referendum opened in Hong Kong on June 20, attracting higher-than-expected turnout and angering China’s central government in Beijing. Organized by pro-democracy group Occupy Central, the referendum offers voters a choice of three reform plans for the election of Hong Kong’s chief executive, all of which include public nomination of candidates, an idea rejected by Beijing. Despite massive cyberattacks blamed on mainland China, more than 700,000 online and in-person voters cast ballots in the first three days of voting.

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Are Hong Kong’s Democracy Activists Chasing an Illusory Goal?

Per Liljas | 25 June 2014 | TIME

Hong Kong’s Occupy Central movement is forcing a showdown with Beijing on democratic reform. There appears to be little hope of winning

On Sunday, Mary Cheung, a business executive, braved the steamy weather, and the labyrinthine passageways of Hong Kong University, to cast her vote in an unofficial plebiscite on the city’s democratic future organized by activist group Occupy Central With Love and Peace.

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Human Rights Watch: Hong Kong Gets Out the Vote

Sophie Richardson | 25 June 2014 | Human Rights Watch

Over the past four days, more than 700,000 people in Hong Kong have presented the Chinese government with one of its worst nightmares: a peaceful process that challenges Beijing’s authority under international law [3]. As of June 23, according to some estimates, as many as one in five [4] registered voters have cast ballots through a non-binding, city-wide referendum to choose among three proposals for political reform in Hong Kong [5] — ignoring threats from the ruling Chinese Communist Party in the process.

The challenge Beijing faces is clear: should it grant real autonomy to Hong Kong’s 7.2 million citizens, and allow them to decide whom to elect and how? Or should it try to crush democratic aspirations among its citizens, as it has done [6] many times before?

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Human Rights Watch: Hong Kong Gets Out the Vote

Sophie Richardson | 25 June 2014 | Human Rights Watch

Many Hong Kong citizens have made their views perfectly clear. From the right to participate in politics, the right to express those views, and their right to demonstrate peacefully as a means of manifesting change, international law is on their side. Who else is?

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Radical opposition is splitting Hong Kong

24 June 2014 | Global Times

Many people believed that the pan-democratic camp in Hong Kong upholds the rule of law and respects civilization, and at the very least performs much better than the protesters in Ukraine. Nonetheless, the “referendum” carried out by the radical opposition members that launched the Occupy Central movement, as well as their recent behavior and the future plans they have announced, reveal that they are no more qualified than those who initiated the color revolutions.

The most radical opposition groups of Hong Kong have already pushed themselves to the opposite of the rule of law. The so-called referendum lacks any constitutional basis and therefore engaging in a fierce political struggle with its results runs counter to the Basic Law and the existing legal system in Hong Kong.
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Herculean hacking attack takes aim at Hong Kong’s dreams of democracy

Nathan VanderKlippe | 24 June 2014 | The Globe and Mail

The full fury of the Internet attack started three hours before polls opened. As people in Hong Kong prepared to cast electronic ballots in an effort to show Chinese authorities their hunger for democracy, hackers opened fire with a potent effort to derail the vote.

Suddenly, a flood of data swarmed the servers designed to handle the voting in a poll held by Occupy Central with Love and Peace, a burgeoning protest movement that has sought the right for Hong Kong people to nominate and elect their own chief executive, the territory’s most powerful position

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