Human Rights

  • It’s one thing to disagree with the protesters, but simply listening to them shows they are not mere thugs and rioters
  • Moreover, they may have done Hong Kong a service by exposing the ineptitude of our government and police

South China Morning Post
Date: 13 Aug, 2019
By: Peter Kammerer  

Beijing and its backers call the young Hong Kong protesters clashing with police separatists,

SCMP Columnist
Shades Off
by Peter Kammerer
independence-seekers and radicals.

They are without doubt lawbreakers and there is certainly a small number seeking self-determination.

But the majority also happen to be well-educated, intelligent, energetic, enthusiastic, courageous, creative, thoughtful and all manner of other qualities, which seem in short supply among those in charge in our city.

If the authorities perceive them as troublemakers whose views don’t count, I’m sure that there are governments elsewhere only too happy to welcome their talents.

I’ve had a few encounters with some of the protesters, each time coming away more impressed. They are idealistic, yes, but not thoughtless as to the ramifications of their actions. The limits are being pushed to force authorities to buckle to demands and, if not,     [FULL  STORY]

BBC
August 13, 2019

Hong Kong anti-government protests

Hong Kong is now entering its 11th week of unrest, with increasing outbreaks of violence and strikes causing major disruption.

The Chinese government has strongly criticised the protesters, but many are wondering whether it will eventually lose patience and take more direct action.

What legal options does Beijing have to intervene, and could we ever see Chinese military action in Hong Kong?

Could China send in the army?

The Basic Law – Hong Kong's mini constitution since the UK handed the territory back to China in 1997 – is very clear. Chinese military intervention can only come at the request of the Hong Kong government, and for the "maintenance of public order and in disaster relief".    [FULL  STORY]

CNN
August 13, 2019
By: Sarah Dean

A senior British Conservative politician has called for Hong Kong citizens to be given full UK nationality

Conservative MP Tom Tugendhat takes part in a meeting of a conservative research group in Westminster hall in London on April 9, 2019. (Photo by Tolga AKMEN / AFP) (Photo credit should read TOLGA AKMEN/AFP/Getty Images)
as a way to reassure them they are supported by the UK amid ongoing protests.

Parliament member Tom Tugendhat, chair of the UK government’s House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee, said Tuesday the UK should consider extending "full citizenship rights to the HK Chinese."

"This should have been done in 1997 and is a wrong that needs correcting," Tugendhat tweeted.

He said the UK has obligations under the Sino-British Joint Declaration.

"Under the Sino-British Joint Declaration the HK Special Autonomous Region has a separate status until 2047 – 50 years after reunification with China. The Basic Law provides the constitutional underpinning of HK's status. The question now is: what should the world do?," he tweeted.
[SOURCE]

Everyone is starting to resist now.

The National Interest
Date: August 4, 2019  
By: Richard Javad Heydarian


“Never trust China,” a wrathful Hong Kong protester told this author during the large-scale protests on July 14 in the Sha Tin district earlier this month. “We are never going to give up, people are fighting to their last breath.” 

What began as a focused opposition to a controversial extradition bill, which would allow Beijing to retrieve fugitives and unwanted citizens fleeing to Hong Kong, has now morphed into a generalized call for independence altogether. 

Carrie Lam, the much-derided pro-Beijing Hong Kong chief executive, has offered to resign but even if she does, that won’t be enough. Nor would an apology and accountability for allegedly brutal police tactics against unarmed protesters. As protests turn increasingly violent and radicalized, there are even fears of Chinese military intervention, which could lead to a Hong Kong version of the Tiananmen massacre. 

The protests in Hong Kong, however, are part of a bigger region-wide backlash against China’s premature bid for hegemony. From Taiwan and the Philippines to Vietnam, Malaysia and Indonesia, a whole host of regional states are standing up against Beijing’s neo-imperial ambitions and revisionist policies. China’s time-tested strategy of ensuring the acquiescence of neighboring regimes through the co-optation of their corrupt elite is looking increasingly fragile. Moreover, Hong Kong is exhibit A of the perils of unbridled economic engagement with Beijing. 

What hundreds of thousands of Hong Kong residents are worried about is the preservation of the city-state’s unique political system. For them, Beijing has flagrantly violated the fundamental principles undergirding the so-called “One Country, Two Systems” regime, which was supposed to have governed Beijing-Hong Kong relations for five decades following the former British colony’s handover in 1997. 

Under Xi Jinping’s rule, Hong Kong residents have seen the gradual emaciation of the promise of universal suffrage as well as the long-cherished freedoms of assembly and free press, and other civil liberties and political rights. For them, China’s strongman leadership is obsessed with the “one country” at the expense of the “two systems” aspect of the bargain. 

Critics argue, this has come about not only through the establishment of a de facto puppet regime in Hong Kong, but also the co-optation of the business elite, media, academy and the key institutions collectively governing the city-state. Beijing’s creeping intrusion is now literally concretely on display, thanks to massive state-of-the-art infrastructure projects, including the Guangzhou–Shenzhen–Hong Kong Express Rail Link (XRL) as well as the Hong Kong–Zhuhai–Macau Bridge, which potently symbolize Beijing’s long reach. 

Even worse, there are even fears of Beijing’s surreptitious introduction of the infamous “social credit” surveillance regime to Hong Kong. That system would bring potentially dire consequences for the basic freedoms of each and every resident, including foreign journalists, academics and businessmen based in the city-state. Furthermore, there are even fears of Chinese military intervention. Ominously, China’s defense ministry spokesman Wu Qian has made it clear that it can deploy the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) for quelling protests in Hong Kong if necessary.     [FULL  STORY]

One Country, Two Phones

Quartz
Date: August 6, 2019
By: Jane Li

Big brother and sister are watching.
In the face of mounting pressure on personal freedom, Chinese internet users appear to be trying more actively to push back against tightening digital surveillance from Beijing. 

On both Chinese and foreign websites, discussions, tips and software hacks to combat the government’s grip over cyberspace have picked up in recent months. The advice represents a rare wave of resistance to the government’s use of intrusive surveillance tools to gather data on its citizens, and comes as a number of recent media reports have reignited the fears of many that they could face repercussions for seeking out content deemed “sensitive” by the ruling Communist party.

People in China are already aware that their online communications, even messages sent in private chats, are subject to monitoring and censorship. But recently, there has been a string of events that have left many worried that surveillance is becoming even more intrusive. There’s been coverage about phone-monitoring apps being installed on citizens’ devices, along with widely shared reports of police in Beijing conducting checks on people’s mobile phones, as well as accounts from some Chinese Twitter users on being questioned (link in Chinese) by the police for accessing the banned social network in China.

There was suspicion, in the case of checking phones, that police were searching for information related to the recent protests in Hong Kong, where hundreds of thousands of people took to the streets to protest against a controversial extradition law. The anxiety reached such heights that the Beijing police issued a statement to explain they were only checking IDs (link in Chinese) as part of routine police patrols.

The explanation did little to reassure internet users. Twitter user RF Parsley, who says he is a foreigner living in the Chinese capital, said he personally saw such checks take place. “I was surprised to see them asking for phones, and then, once they had them, asking for passwords and scrolling through,” he told Quartz. And a Beijing-based Chinese Twitter user, who didn’t want to be identified, said a colleague had his phone checked by police in Beijing recently. The police checked his photo albums and what apps he had on his phone, the user said.    [FULL  STORY]

In harshest warning yet, Beijing says it's 'only a matter of time' before 'criminals' behind protests are punished.

Aljazeera
April 6, 2019

Protesters in Hong Kong must not "play with fire" and mistake China's restraint for weakness, Beijing has warned, in its sharpest rebuke yet of the demonstrations in the semi-autonomous city.

At a press briefing in Beijing on Tuesday, a spokesman for the Hong Kong and Macao Affairs Office of the State Council, said the months-long "radical protests" have severely affected Hong Kong's "prosperity and stability, pushing it into a dangerous abyss".

Yang Guang said the Chinese government still "firmly supports" both the Hong Kong police force – who protesters have criticised for their heavy-handed response – and Carrie Lam, the city's pro-Beijing leader who protesters want to resign.

"We would like to make it clear to the very small group of unscrupulous and violent criminals and the dirty forces behind them: Those who play with fire will perish by it," he said.   

"As for their punishment, it's only a matter of time."
 

Yang added: "Don't ever misjudge the situation and mistake our restraint for weakness … Don't ever underestimate the firm resolve and immense strength of the central government."

 

Hong Kong has suffered weeks of sometimes-violent protests that began with opposition to a now-suspended extradition law, which would have allowed suspects to be tried in mainland courts.

The protests have since swelled into a broader backlash against the government of the Asian financial hub, fuelled by many residents' fear of eroding freedoms under the increasingly tight control of the Communist Party. Demonstrators' demands include an independent inquiry into alleged police brutality, the release of arrested protesters and the direct election of officials.    [FULL  STORY]

Video shows Hong Kong protesters in black shirts beating back gangsters in white shirts

Taiwan News
Date: 2019/08/06
By: Keoni Everington, Taiwan News, Staff Writer

(Screenshot from Facebook video)
(Screenshot from Facebook video)[/caption]
TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Video has surfaced on Monday (Aug. 5) showing Hong Kong protesters successfully fighting back against suspected triad members in white shirts.

On July 21, a mob of over 100 men wearing white T-shirts and brandishing blunt weapons indiscriminately assaulted passengers in Hong Kong's Yuen Long MTR Station. Many of the men are suspected of being triad members in collusion with the police, who were conveniently absent from the scene for long stretches of time during the mob's attack.

Protesters who have been demonstrating for the past two months against the controversial extradition bill suspect that the thugs may have been dispatched by Beijing, if not local pro-China politicians such as Junius Ho, to crush the protest movement. Out of defiance, signs started appearing in the Hong Kong MTR on July 22 which read, "Please mind the thugs."

On Monday, a video has surfaced showing that Hong Kong protesters have learned their lesson and are now well-armed with staffs of their own. In the video, a mob of men in white t-shirts can be seen carrying sticks and preparing to attack a group of protesters in black T-shirts in Hong Kong's North Point area.

At first, the men confidently cross the metal barrier thinking they will have their way with the timid youths as in the past. But in this case, they are vastly outnumbered and the protesters are much more prepared this time with bamboo staffs of their own.    [FULL  STORY]

ABC News
Date: August 3, 2019
By: Erin Handley

PHOTO: China’s tours for diplomats and journalists paint a sanitised picture of Xinjiang, critics say.(ABC News: Graphic by Jarrod Fankhauser)
PHOTO: China's tours for diplomats and journalists paint a sanitised picture of Xinjiang, critics say.(ABC News: Graphic by Jarrod Fankhauser)[/caption]
A young Uyghur woman smiles as she threads a needle to the backdrop of tinkling piano music.

"I have rid myself of extremist thought," another says, playing ping-pong.

Slick Chinese videos seek to counter the United Nations' finding that at least 1 million Uyghurs — a Turkic-speaking Muslim minority — are detained in internment camps in China's western region of Xinjiang.

But the centrepiece in China's propaganda apparatus is the orchestrated tour of Xinjiang — bringing journalists and diplomats inside their "vocational centres" to showcase young Uyghur men and women dressed in bright clothing as they sing and dance for the cameras.

YOUTUBE: The BBC's tour of China's 'thought transformation' camps

Last month, two dozen countries — including Australia — called on China to halt the "arbitrary detention" and "widespread surveillance and restriction" of Uyghurs and other minorities in Xinjiang.

But last week China hit back, saying ambassadors from 50 countries backed their stance on Xinjiang after taking state-sanctioned tours of what it calls "boarding schools".

Xinjiang families torn apart

It appears to be the largest imprisonment of people on the basis of religion since the Holocaust.

"They saw a real Xinjiang with their own eyes," Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying told reporters

In rhetoric echoing science-fiction notions of "pre-crime", China says the facilities are necessary to prevent terrorist acts before extremist thoughts can take root.    [FULL  STORY]

Protesters on Friday called for greater rights and government accountability, more protests expected through weekend

Taiwan News
Date: 2019/08/03
By:  Associated Press

Hong Kong civil servants and supporters crowded into a public park Friday, Aug. 2 (By Associated Press)

HONG KONG (AP) — Hong Kong civil servants and supporters crowded into a public park Friday to join a pro-democracy movement that China’s top diplomat accused Western nations of provoking.

Several thousand joined the rally for government workers in solidarity with protesters who have called for greater rights and government accountability over the past two months. As rain hit the umbrella-ready crowd, attendees dispersed willingly, avoiding the police clashes that have increasingly beleaguered demonstrations.

“As civil servants, if we don’t stand up, that means we are disloyal,” said K. H. Wu, a retiree who worked for the government’s Census Department for 40 years. “Our loyalties are not to a particular government, but to the people.”

Wu attended the rally with his wife, also a civil servant. He said this was the first time he participated in a rally in which he openly shared his status as a former government worker. He said he did so because he feels “there’s nothing to be afraid of.”    [FULL  STORY]

Police have declined Saturday's protest request in Yuen Long, but protesters came up with different excuses to justify the assembly.

The News Lens
Date: 2019/07/29
By: Laignee Barron and Abhishyant Kidangoor

Photo Credit: Reuters / TPG Images

HONG KONG — Police fired round after round of tear gas to disperse tens of thousands of demonstrators who defied an official ban and flooded Hong Kong’s residential town of Yuen Long Saturday, bringing their months-long pro-democracy protests to the doorstep of a divided suburb that was the site of bloody mob violence against activists early this week.

The ordinarily quiet cluster of villages near the China border became a flashpoint in the city’s spiraling crisis on July 21 after a mob of suspected gangsters attacked demonstrators, journalists, and passersby at a mass transit station in the most barbaric episode of protest-related violence since the unrest began in early June. Police were accused of turning a blind eye as they ran amok, a charge officials denied.

Dressed mainly in black shirts, yellow hard hats and face masks, the de facto uniform of the city’s protest movement, a massive crowd turned out to vent their anger over perceived police inaction during the assault, carried out in two waves of violence over the course of two hours. Organizers of Saturday’s march resorted to satire to evade the official ban; flyers advertised “full gear” activities such as shopping and playing Pokémon GO to justify the large assembly.

“We aren’t calling today a protest,” said Joanne, a 23-year-old professional event organizer who, like many of the protesters, declined to use her given name for fear of legal action. “Some people are here for good food, for sightseeing or for shopping,” she added. “We just all happen to be gathered, and we happen to be angry at the police, but we can’t call it a protest.”
[FULL  STORY]