People’s Power Succeeds in Hong Kong
In the recent times, more than a dozen countries in the world has seen immense success of ‘People’s Power’ to overthrow dictators of their respective nation. The suppression of nations’ citizens is directly proportional to the so-called most abused word in the history of mankind – FREEDOM!
Leaders of the nations are so power hungry that they suppress their own citizens’ freedom rights to blatantly give rise to killings and corruption. However, when the people of the nation rise in thousands and millions, these right-wing leaders has no clue whatsoever to their own future. Sudanese rise saw the 30-year evil ruler President Omar al-Bashir being overthrown for increasing the price of bread and corruption. He is behind the bars now. How ironic?
Hong Kong saw the most amazing rise of people’s power in millions, when CEO Carrie Lam called for a debate of the controversial extradition bill on the 9th of June 2019. A sea of Hong Kong’s people – young, old and children – estimated to be more than a million occupied the streets of the progressive city to stand in protest against the controversial ‘Extradition Bill’.
People surrounded the government building in thousands to put a stop for the debate of legislators to take place. There were clashes between police and the protestors. Pepper spray, tear gas and rubber bullets were sprayed and fired at peaceful protestors. More than 5,000 police charged with batons mercilessly. Many were injured badly during the clashes. One man died, who fell from a building on 15th June 2019 while holding banners opposing the extradition bill.
One Country, Two Systems:
Hong Kong is an amazing city, which enjoys an amazing progressive legal system after being handed over to China by the British Empire in the year 1997. The concept is known as ‘one country, two systems’. In spite of being part of China, Hong Kong has a different legal system. The pro-Beijing Hong Kong CEO Carrie Lam government advocates the new extradition bill to restrict people’s civil rights in the city, which also includes ‘Freedom of Speech’ and ‘Rule of Law’.
Hong Kong people say the extradition bill is dangerous not only for them, but also to foreigners, who can be extradited to mainland China with no explanation. Lawmakers state Hong Kong will no longer have rule of law or city’s own autonomy. Carrie Lam government insists the bill is necessary to ensure the city does not become a sanctuary for fugitives, who are running away from law. This statement of the CEO is controversial and deceptive in nature.
Carrie Lam stood her firm stance to pass the extradition bill in spite of the first mass rally by millions on the 9th of June 2019. This act of power by the CEO angered the people even more, who vowed to carry on with their peaceful protest against the controversial bill in big numbers. The mass rally on the 16th of June 2019 saw nearly 2 million people on the streets. The government failed big time against the people’s power.
Almost 2 in every 7 people in Hong Kong were on the streets to voice their protest against the CEO’s draconian leadership. The world was amazed to witness the sheer numbers of people, who swarmed the streets to create a ‘Sea of Humans’. It was one of the biggest rallies in Hong Kong ever since its independence in 1997. China allowed Hong Kong to keep key liberties like ‘Freedom of Speech’ and ‘Independent Courts for 50 years, that is, till the year 2047.
Critics have slammed Beijing for interfering in their city’s governance. It has been evident that the mainland China is intrusive in obstructing democratic reforms, election interference and behind the disappearance of 5 Hong Kong-based booksellers, who had specialized in works critical of Chinese leaders from 2015 onwards. CEO Carrie Lam is believed to be pro-Beijing, who is ruling Hong Kong.
First Success of People’s Power:
Carrie Lam had never imagined what she was going to face, when the first mass rally started on the 9th June 2019. An estimated million plus people united to voice their protest against the extradition bill. Many protestors were injured and arrested by police, who were in riot-gears. The anger was evident and the world witnessed an amazing mass of people swarming the Hong Kong streets. With Lam standing her grounds, the leaders of the people promised for a much bigger mass rally on the 16th of June 2019.
Carrie Lam consulted with lawmakers and decided to suspend the passage of the extradition bill for time being to pacify the mass demonstrations and unrest further. She stated there was no timeline for discussions on the bill to resume and indicated that the bill will not likely to pass this year. She did not offer her apology for the police brutality and arrests of demonstrators, which really angered the people.
The CEO issued a statement stating, “We have made many attempts to narrow differences and eliminate doubts. In the last week, tens of thousands of people took part in protests and gatherings. Serious conflicts broke out, resulting in a number of police officers, media workers and other members of the public being injured. I am saddened by this.”
She hoped the government would restore calmness by suspending the extradition bill for now. IT would also be another blow to the society, if she failed to do so. Lam stated the original purpose of the bill was correct in her mind. However, she assured her communication with the public was not adequate enough. She stated, “I feel deep sorrow and regret that the deficiencies in my work and other factors has stirred up deep dissatisfaction and controversies in society. My team would adopt the most sincere and humble attitude in future.”
The demonstrators had made sure to surround the Hong Kong’s government headquarters to force legislators to postpone the debate on the bill. The fear in Hong Kong was evident, because the extradition bill could be used to extradite residents to mainland China for political or accidental business offenses.
On the 16th of June 2019, two million people gathered on the Hong Kong streets demanding the extradition bill to be scrapped completely, free all the arrested demonstrators without charges, Carrie Lam should apologize and resign from her post. The peaceful march of 2-million people wore black and carried flowers to pay their respect for the only man to die for the cause, who died for the cause. The mood of the demonstrators was that of anger, emotional and sheer frustration because of Carrie Lam’s behaviour and insensitivity.
In the year 2017, Carrie Lam became the CEO of Hong Kong. In just two years’ time, her incapability to rule Hong Kong’s top office has created the largest mass rally of the public, who are demanding Carrie Lam to resign. The uproar and live telecast on the international media has tarnished her image as an efficient leader. Critics slammed Carrie Lam for her leadership, which has created distressed to citizens in Hong Kong.
The demonstrators achieved the first stage of success, when Carrie Lam suspended the extradition bill and was forced to apologize to the public. Her rare apology came a bit too late, because now the demonstrators want her to scrap the extradition bill completely and resign from her post. The peaceful protest will continue further till the bill is scrapped. Her office issued a statement – ‘The Chief Executive apologizes to the citizen and promises to accept criticism with most sincere and humble attitude’.
Organizer Bonnie Leung stated in an interview, “Hong Kong people are tired of being lied to by their representatives. The more sincere you say you are, the more anger we have. Her apology just added fuel to the fire. Lam’s apology is meaningless. What we need to do is not let up on the momentum and keep building the power of the people. Two million Hong Kongers came out today, we need them to connect with their communities and reach another three or four million people.”
Bonnie Leung further added, “If the international community values the rule of law, freedom and human rights, they need to speak up. It is important for the international community to keep their attention focused on the city.” A sea of black was formed along the streets, walkways and train stations across Hong Kong’s financial centre holding placards and banners – ‘Do Not Shoot, We Are Hong Kongers’. It was an appeal to police, who had fired rubber bullets and tear gas injuring more than 70 people during the mass rally.
Carrie Lam did insist that the legislation was still needed. However, a temporary suspension of the bill was not enough to pacify the demonstrators. John Chow, a bank worker stated, “Our demands are simple. Carrie Lam must leave office, the extradition law must be withdrawn and the police must apologize for using extreme violence against their own people.” Fashion designer Maggie Man added, “She has only said she will stop the bill for a while, not cancel it completely, so for now I won't accept her apology.”
Founding member of Hong Kong's Democratic Party Martin Lee stated, “There is no need to rush. We are not only objecting to the way the government has been handling the passage of the bill, but the very bill itself. Whether Lam resigns or not, the bill must be scrapped. And then if they really want to discuss, then let's discuss on that basis that there is no bill.”