Hong Kong democracy activist Joshua Wong walked free from prison on Monday (June 17) after serving nearly five weeks for contempt of court, pledging to join a mass protest movement demanding that the city’s Beijing-backed leader, Carrie Lam, to step down.
His release comes a day after organizers of the protest calling for Lam to quit over a controversial extradition bill said almost two million black-clad people joined Sunday’s march to government offices.
“Millions of Hong Kong people joined the demonstration and protest within the past few weeks. It shows the spirit and dignity of Hong Kong people. What we ask for is to urge Carrie Lam the evil chief executive should withdraw the extradition amendment,” he said.
“And what we are trying to do is just through civil disobedience and direct action and let the whole world, let the international communities to realize that how Hong Kong people will not keep silence under the suppression of President Xi and the Chief Executive Carrie Lam,” he added.
Wong continued with: “Carrie Lam must step down, otherwise I believe in the next few weeks before the 22 anniversary of Hong Kong transfer of sovereignty, more and more Hong Kong people not only one million or two million people will come and join our fight until the day we get back our basic human rights and freedom.”
Before he was jailed, both Wong, 22, and his supporters had called for the Hong Kong government to scrap the extradition proposal.
Wong who was one of the leaders of the 2014 “Umbrella” pro-democracy protests that blocked major roads in the Chinese-ruled city for 79 days presenting China’s Communist Party rulers in Beijing with one of their biggest political challenges in decades.
While Lam delayed the bill at the weekend, it has yet to be completely shelved, despite widespread concern that the status of Hong Kong as a financial hub could be eroded by changes to the rule of law. (REUTERS)
Amnesty International accused Hong Kong police on Friday (September 19) of torture and other abuses in their handling of more than three months of sometimes violent pro-democracy protests, but the police have said they had shown restraint.
Anti-government protesters, many masked and wearing black, have thrown petrol bombs at the police and central government offices, stormed the Legislative Council, blocked roads to the airport, trashed metro stations and set fires on the streets of the Chinese-ruled city.
Police have responded with tear gas, water cannon, rubber bullets, bean bags and several live rounds fired in the air, warning the crowds beforehand with a series of different coloured banners. They have also been seen beating protesters on the ground with batons.
Amnesty East Asia director Nicholas Bequelim told Reuters a field investigation had documented “disproportionate use of force” by the Hong Kong Police Force as well as mistreatment of detainees, including “a couple cases of torture”.
Amnesty also said the investigation had found “exclusive evidence of torture and other ill-treatment in detention” and called into question the Hong Kong government’s whole approach to the protest movement.
There appeared to be a “level of incompetence” among the police force, with some instances of teargas being deployed without proper justification or clear purpose to maintain public order, Bequelim said.
Amnesty called on the Hong Kong government to conduct a dialogue with the protesters, and establish an independent investigation committee to look into the accusations of excessive use of force by police. (REUTERS)
(Production: Xihao Jiang, Joyce Zhou, Jiraporn Kuhakan, Alex Solum, Peter Blaza, Angie Teo)
Hong Kong is facing a crisis of the rule of law and the most pressing task is to bring an end to the violence and restore social order in the city, a spokeswoman for the Chinese Foreign Ministry said Tuesday.
Hua Chunying, the spokeswoman, made the comment at a regular press briefing while responding to a reporter’s question about a Hong Kong lawmaker’s remarks at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva on Monday.
Hua refuted the lawmaker’s statement that Hong Kong is on the “verge of a humanitarian crisis”.
“I think Hong Kong is indeed at the brink of a crisis now, but not a ‘humanitarian crisis’ as she alleged, but a crisis of the rule of law. Over the past two months or so, we have clearly seen how the situation in Hong Kong developed. I noted that journalists with CNN recently also turned their camera lens to those violent radicals who hurt ordinary people and passers-by. They waged crazy, heinous attacks and caused severe harms to the rule of law and security of the whole society,” said Hua.
Hua said that the most pressing and overriding task at the moment is to stop violence, end the chaos and restore the rule of law and order.
“What really needs to be investigated are those violent radicals and their criminal behaviors and the backstage manipulators, all of which have contributed to the seriously damaging, extreme violence in Hong Kong,” she said. (REUTERS)
A Hong Kong resident recalled the moments he took upon himself to unmask an unruly rioter and got beaten up by other protesters on Saturday.
Mr. Wan, who lives in Kowloon, went to the Amoy Plaza to take part in an activity of singing the Chinese national anthem after lunch. However, he became indignant when he saw a rioter in black cursing the participants.
“I saw a man covered from head to toe in black. His whole body was covered. He was so arrogant and was cursing at us for singing the national anthem. In the heat of the moment, I didn’t think much and was just enraged that he was acting that way just because he was masked,” said Wan.
Letting his emotion get the better of him, Wan crossed the street, headed towards the masked man and pulled out his mask to unveil his face to the public.
“I couldn’t bear him anymore. So I crossed the street to take off his mask. Once he was unmasked, the same arrogant guy who was denigrating and calling us names a second before became so frightened that he immediately fled the scene,” he said.
While some of the people at the scene filmed the moment Wan tore down the “fig leaf” of the rioter, some of the rioters attacked and beat him.
“There were five or six people hitting me, on my head and my body and were kicking me. I tried my best to protect myself from the attack before a number of national song singers came out to my rescue and pushed the rioters away. As their identities were exposed, they slip away for fear of being shot by camera,” Wan said.
Although Wan said that he was perhaps a little reckless at the time, the idea of uncovering the countenances of the so-called “protesters” drove him to such action.
“I have endured them for months. Their logic is that as long as they are masked, no one can recognize them, and they won’t be held of any responsibility no matter what they do. I think they should be responsible for whatever they do. We are all adults. There’s a very simple solution – just to take off their masks. It is well-accepted that one can express himself, but only in accordance with the laws. If there are no laws, how can we protect our families and govern our country,” he added.
Wan’s action has nearly granted him hero status among many of his acquaintances and online.
“My friends, my old classmates all say I did the right thing. They say ‘you got the guts’. I could take this responsibility. I could take this pain — it’s just some bleeding. I did what I’m supposed to do, what a Hong Kong resident is supposed to do, which is to defend Hong Kong, defend our country. We have to do this because if you stay silent, it’s like you are aiding them. I want to take their masks off. I want to hold them accountable for their actions,” said Wan.
Many people contacted Wan and provided him with cell phone footages of his interaction with the rioter and being ganged up by others, which inspired Wan to call the police.
Wan said it was a pity that the result of his action led him to miss the activity, but he is looking forward to the next opportunity to show his affection for the motherland.
“I ended up not being able to take part in the activity to sing the national song that day. But I hope to join the next one. I want more people to hear our voice with our singing of the national song and our support to ‘one country, two systems,'” he said. (REUTERS)
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