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Beijing's crackdown on Hong Kong Pro-Democratic Movement

Discussion in 'China & Asia Pacific' started by BMD, Oct 1, 2017.

  1. BMD

    BMD Colonel ELITE MEMBER

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    https://www.yahoo.com/news/tens-thousands-march-defend-hong-kongs-rule-law-105649548.html

    Tens of thousands march to defend Hong Kong's rule of law against China

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    Pro-democracy activists carry a banner reading "anti-authority, against suppression", during a protest on China's National Day in Hong Kong, China October 1, 2017. REUTERS/Bobby Yip


    By James Pomfret

    HONG KONG (Reuters) - Tens of thousands marched in China-ruled Hong Kong on Sunday in an "anti authoritarian rule" march that called for the resignation of the city's top legal official over the recent jailing of young democracy activists.

    The march, an annual fixture over the past few years on China's October 1 National Day, comes at a time of nascent disillusionment with Hong Kong's once vaunted judiciary.

    "Without democracy, how can we have the rule of law," the crowds yelled as they marched through sporadic downpours, from a muddy pitch to the city's harbor-front government headquarters.

    Organizers estimated about 40,000 people joined the march.

    Many protesters, some clad in black, expressed dismay with Hong Kong's Secretary of Justice, Rimsky Yuen, who Reuters reported had over-ruled several other senior public prosecutors to seek jail terms for three prominent democrats: Joshua Wong, Nathan Law and Alex Chow.

    "We believe he (Yuen) has been the key orchestrator in destroying Hong Kong's justice," said Avery Ng, one of the organizers of the rally that drew a coalition of some 50 civil and political groups.

    Around one hundred Hong Kong activists are now facing possible jail terms for various acts of mostly democratic advocacy including the "Umbrella Revolution" in late 2014 that saw tens of thousands of people block major roads for 79 days in a push for universal suffrage.

    RULE OF LAW

    While the October 1 march is a regular annual fixture, this was the first time the rule of law has been scrutinized like this, with the judiciary -- a legacy of the British Common Law system -- long considered one of the best in Asia and a cornerstone of Hong Kong's economic success.

    "It's like mainland (Chinese) laws have intruded into Hong Kong," said Alex Ha, a teacher of classical guitar, who was walking alone in the crowd.

    The World Economic Forum's Global Competitiveness Index last week downgraded Hong Kong's judicial independence ranking by five spots to number 13 in the world.

    In response, however, Yuen stressed at the time that Hong Kong's judiciary remained strong and independent.

    "We cannot rely on subjective perceptions, we have to look at the facts," he told reporters.

    Hong Kong, a former British colony, returned to Chinese rule in 1997 with the promise that Beijing would grant the city a high degree of autonomy and an independent judiciary under a so-called "one country, two systems" arrangement.

    But over two decades of Chinese rule, differences have deepened between Communist Party leaders in Beijing and a younger generation of democracy advocates, some of whom are now calling for the financial hub to eventually split from China.

    Hong Kong's Chief Executive, Carrie Lam spoke of a need for unity during a speech to assembled dignitaries at a National Day reception to mark the 68th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China by the Communists.

    "As long as we capitalize on our strengths, stay focused, seize the opportunities before us and stand united, I am sure that Hong Kong can reach even greater heights," she said.

     
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  2. Agent_47

    Agent_47 Admin - Blog IDF NewBie

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    Hong Kong democracy campaigners jailed over anti-China protests

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    Hong Kong’s democracy movement has suffered the latest setback in what has been a punishing year after three of its most influential young leaders were jailed for their roles in a protest at the start of a 79-day anti-government occupation known as the umbrella movement.

    Alex Chow, Nathan Law, and Joshua Wong, the bespectacled student dubbed Hong Kong’s “face of protest” were sentenced to between six and eight months imprisonment each.

    The trio, aged 26, 24 and 20 respectively, had avoided jail a year ago after being convicted of taking part in or inciting an “illegal assembly” that helped spark the umbrella protests, in late September 2014. But this month Hong Kong’s department of justice called for those sentences to be reconsidered, with one senior prosecutor attacking the “rather dangerous” leniency he claimed had been shown to the activists.

    Judge Wally Yeung argued the sentences were a necessary deterrent to what he called a “sick trend” of anti-government protest. “Such arrogant and self-righteous thinking [has] unfortunately affected some young people, and led them to damage public order and peace during protests,” he said, according to the Hong Kong broadcaster RTHK.

    “See you soon,” Wong tweeted shortly after the verdict was announced.

    In another message he wrote: “Imprisoning us will not extinguish Hongkonger’s desire for universal suffrage. We are stronger, more determined, and we will win.”

    “You can lock up our bodies, but not our minds! We want democracy in Hong Kong. And we will not give up.”

    The decision to increase the activists’ punishments sparked outrage among supporters and campaigners who condemned what they called the latest example of Beijing’s bid to snuff out peaceful challenges to its rule.

    “It smacks of political imprisonment, plain and simple,” said Jason Ng, the author of Umbrellas in Bloom, a book about Hong Kong’s youth protest movement.

    Mabel Au, Amnesty International’s director in Hong Kong, said: “The relentless and vindictive pursuit of student leaders using vague charges smacks of political payback by the authorities.”

    “It is not a surprise but it is a shock. It is another blow for basic freedoms and the rule of law in Hong Kong,” said Benedict Rogers, the deputy chair of the conservative human rights commission.

    There was also criticism from the United States where Republican senator Marco Rubio attacked the decision as “shameful and further evidence that Hong Kong’s cherished autonomy is precipitously eroding”.

    “Joshua Wong, Nathan Law, Alex Chow and other umbrella movement protesters are pro-democracy champions worthy of admiration, not criminals deserving jail time,” said Rubio, who heads the congressional-executive commission on China.

    the 20th anniversary of handover, Chinese president Xi Jinping oversaw a tub-thumping military parade which observers said underscored the increasingly hardline posture Beijing was now taking towards Hong Kong amid an upsurge in support for independence. “The implication is: ‘We will come out in the streets and put you down if we have to,’” the political blogger Suzanne Pepper said at the time.

    A fortnight later, the democracy movement suffered a body blow when four pro-democracy lawmakers, including Law, were ejected from Hong Kong’s parliamentfor using their oath-taking ceremonies to thumb their noses at Beijing. That decision robbed the pro-democracy camp of its veto power over major legislation.

    In an interview with the Guardian, Law, who had been the youngest person elected to Hong Kong’s legislature, said the disqualifications were an attempt by Beijing to “suppress the more progressive voices in Hong Kong”.

    “I won’t give up fighting. If Liu Xiaobo can persist under much harsher circumstances, so can we,” Law vowed, referring to the late democracy icon who died in Chinese custody last month, becoming the first Nobel peace prize winner to perish in custody since German pacifist Carl von Ossietzky, who died in 1938 after years in Nazi concentration camps.

    On Tuesday, 13 umbrella activists were jailed for storming Hong Kong’s parliament in 2014, a decision Human Rights Watch condemned as part of a surge in politically motivated prosecutions.

    Ng, the author, said he believed the decision to jail Wong and Law was deliberately designed to stop them running for office later this year in local byelections. Their imprisonment was not intended to deter violence or social disorder but to crack down on “the willingness of young, idealistic people to engage politically”.

    “[These sentences] significantly increase the cost of dissent in Hong Kong,” Ng warned. “From now on, protesters will need to think about the possibility of getting locked up for months or even years.

    “It has an enormous chilling effect … especially on young people, and sends a strong message to them that they should shut up or else.”

    Speaking on Wednesday night, Wong said he would not be silenced, even behind bars where he planned to spend his time reading novels, studying and writing columns about politics.

    Wong also used his final hours of freedom to send a message to Xi: “Please respect the desires of Hong Kong people. The people are united and they will never stop.”

    https://www.theguardian.com/world/2...y-campaigners-jailed-over-anti-china-protests
     
  3. Agent_47

    Agent_47 Admin - Blog IDF NewBie

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    Beijing’s heavy hand
    The jailing of Hong Kong’s young pro-democracy leaders 

    HONG KONG—On Aug. 17, the Chinese government dropped all pretenses of allowing autonomy in Hong Kong by sentencing its first political prisoners in the former British colony: Joshua Wong, 20, Nathan Law, 24, and Alex Chow, 27, will serve six to eight months in prison for leading the 2014 pro-democracy Umbrella Movement protest.

    “Joshua Wong, Nathan Law, Alex Chow, and other Umbrella Movement protesters are pro-democracy champions worthy of admiration,” said Sen. Marco Rubio, chairman of the U.S. Congressional-Executive Commission on China. “The political prosecutions and resentencing of these young people is shameful and further evidence that Hong Kong’s cherished autonomy is precipitously eroding.”

    While Wong is the most well-known internationally, appearing on the cover of Time in 2014 as “The Face of Protest,” Chow was another main organizer of the Occupy Central campaign and the secretary-general of the Hong Kong Federation of Students. Law, who succeeded Chow as the secretary-general, went on to win a seat in Hong Kong’s Legislative Council in 2016, yet the Chinese government disqualified him from the position after he altered the wording of the oath of office during his swearing-in ceremony.

    Wong is open about his Christian faith and how it catalyzed his activism against Beijing’s tightening control over Hong Kong. Growing up in a Christian home, Wong learned about evangelism from his father. With his church, Wong distributed rice dumplings and mooncakes to the needy. In the 2017 documentary Joshua: Teenager vs. Superpower, Wong recalls visiting and praying for a poor family when he was 13 and returning the following year to find their situation unchanged.

    That’s when he decided to try to bring social change through action. He created the student group Scholarism to protest the implantation in Hong Kong of a national education curriculum featuring textbooks that praise the Chinese Communist Party, criticize democracy, and do not mention the Tiananmen massacre. Scholarism and 30 other groups organized a march in 2012 that attracted 90,000 protesters who called on the Hong Kong government to cancel the curriculum. In the end, then-Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying revoked the 2015 deadline for schools to start teaching the curriculum.

    “Without faith, I definitely would not take to the streets,” Wong wrote in his 2013 book I Am Not a Hero. “Without faith, I definitely would not participate in activism. Without faith, I would not even be aware of how we should find our value and know that everyone is equal, loved by God, and should be treated equally.”

    [​IMG]
    Wong, Law, and Chow (from left to right) in 2016 outside the Eastern Court in Hong Kong (Anthony Wallace/AFP/Getty Images)

    Wong co-founded in 2016 the pro-democracy political party Demosistō, which supports self-determination (the belief that Hong Kong citizens should decide for themselves how Hong Kong should be governed after it is fully returned to China in 2047). The Sino-British treaty stated that after the 1997 handover, China would give Hong Kong a high degree of autonomy for 50 years. This is a promise China has been more and more shameless in breaking in recent years.

    Wong fears what will become of Hong Kong’s historically robust religious freedom. Churches are now a common sight in Hong Kong, and mainland Chinese Christians cross the border to attend large conferences and evangelism trainings here. “Without a sound, democratic system, we don’t even have freedom of religion,” Wong said in 2014. “We don’t even have the chance to evangelize publicly.”

    Demosistō member Derek Lam recently wrote a New York Times op-ed titled “I Won’t Make Jesus Bow Down to Xi Jinping.” He wrote that he has wanted to be a pastor since he was 16 and studies theology at Chinese University of Hong Kong, yet he fears he may soon be imprisoned and barred from becoming a pastor. Authorities arrested Lam after he led a protest against Beijing’s involvement in kicking out pro-democracy legislators.

    “Although there is nothing I would love more than to become a pastor and preach the gospel in Hong Kong, I will never do so if it means making Jesus subservient to [Chinese President] Xi Jinping,” Lam wrote, noting that even Christian youth camps in Hong Kong include the waving of China’s flag, singing of its national anthem, and praising of the “motherland.” “I will continue to fight for religious freedom in Hong Kong, even if I have to do it from behind bars.”

    Chan Sze-chi, senior lecturer of religion and philosophy at Hong Kong Baptist University, believes the recent sentencing is an ominous sign of Beijing’s frustration with Hong Kong democracy activists: “The Communists are taking revenge. It’s Star Wars V: The Empire Strikes Back. It’s certainly politically motivated with complicity of the judiciary.”




    https://world.wng.org/2017/09/beijing_s_heavy_hand
     
  4. Agent_47

    Agent_47 Admin - Blog IDF NewBie

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