I don’t want to turn this into a politics blog but I cannot avoid writing about Occupy Central and their protests.
Ever since I saw them picketing a skyscraper downtown, belonging to a wealthy billionaire with connections with Beijing’s elite, I have followed the Movement’s struggle with increasing apprehension.
The election is quickly turning into a disgrace, a farcical mimicking of a democratic elections where voters will be given the privilege of choosing between about three candidates, all of whom will have to be previously OK’d by Beijing, i.e. they’ll be nothing more than Xi Jinping’s faithful vassals, making the long-awaited universal suffrage as useful as a used Kleenex in a knife fight.
I spent some hours, yesterday evening, looking at places I have seen and used to stroll about carpeted in protesters, waving banners and umbrellas. The pictures are telling more or less the same story: citizens out on one of the most civilised rallies I’ve ever seen, while police seemed not to show any restraint in sprinkling them with CS gas or baton charges. No black-clad Anarchists spraying slogans on bank branches or hurling stones, no overturned cars engulfed in flames… only peaceful families and a police that seems to have lost the grip on the situation.
The situation there is dire. In article on the Global Times, now removed from the website, a professor Wang Qiang at China’s Armed Forces Political Academy, has written “Using armed forces in a country’s management to enforce law is a common practice nowadays.”
There are rumours, told to me by acquaintances in the SAR, that China was readying troops in the mainland, even though the garrison in HK doesn’t seem to be on alert.
In my opinion this is neither unexpected nor strange. China’s policies of complete control, forced assimilation and denial of democratic rights are getting more and more on the nerves of those who live on the fringes of the big empire, such as Tibetans, Uighurs or indeed Hong Kongians. And I’m afraid that, like the protests that hit Tibet in 2008 or the race riots in Xinjiang, these peaceful demonstrations for democracy will be met with force by a government that doesn’t allow any dissent to form or grow. The difference is, however, that this time we’re not talking about a landlocked region where access for a foreigner is allowed only with an escort, but it’s one of the world’s key cities.
Good luck everyone in Hong Kong. Be strong, I hope you succeed.