At least two people were arrested on Wednesday when protesters in Hong Kong, not alarmed by the new fines they may face, faced the police, some proudly carrying the Hong Kong independence flag, despite huge personal risks: according to the new Security Act Independence of materials can lead to arrest and prosecution with harsh prison sentences.
One day after President Xi signed a new national security lawBy officially blocking part of the Hong Kong Basic Law through a loophole in the quasi-constitution left by the British, the Hong Kong people are on the verge of an open rebellion, since the fall in COVID-19 cases has pushed more to return to the streets despite legal risks.
Police used intense crowd control techniques, such as water cannons, cordons, and pepper spray, to keep marchers off the main local road between Causeway Bay shopping center and Hong Kong city center. Instead, tens of thousands of protesters took to secondary streets. Unlike past protests, few wore signs or posters or coordinated their outfits in black. Although at least one of those arrested was warned for carrying the flag, a serious crime, as we mentioned above.
Singing was mostly limited, although the forbidden call “The Revolution of Our Times” echoed from the open square beneath a shopping center in Times Square as more and more young people walked out of the subway exit to join the protest, according to a report from Nikkei Asian Review,
According to a statement by the police chief, Hong Kong police, which was more than willing to pay tribute to every Beijing demand related to the law, had already formed a special “national security” crime protection unit. This is bad news for two people arrested during the march, one of whom touted the independence flag, as we noted above (according to Nikkei).
One of the worst features of the new law is the possibility that offenders of “national security” can be prosecuted from mainland courts, where any semblance of civil liberties in Hong Kong will disappear. Chinese leaders insisted that such cases be extremely rare.
Although the Hong Kong government referred to the pandemic as a pretext for banning protests, pro-democracy lawmakers urged people to take to the streets in protest, despite police intervention.
Citing restrictions on the coronavirus, city officials banned an annual protest organized by the Civil Rights Front, the organizer of last year’s mass rallies. But pro-democracy legislators and activists urged people to challenge the ban and take to the streets.
During the rally, journalists were attacked by the police in chaos.
The journalist was shot in the head with a water canon. Their body flew away on the spot a few meters and was carried away by the first assistants. #hk #Hong Kong # Freedom of the press #journalist pic.twitter.com/1IICFbWP9X
– miamorcl (@ jrSYU0qmIJjQe4X) July 1, 2020
HK CEO Carrie Lam, who was installed in Beijing, spoke at the flag-raising ceremony on Wednesday morning, where she proclaimed that the new law is “the most important milestone in strengthening the one-country, two-system system.”
“Legislation will protect most people who obey the laws,” Lam said. “This is a turning point for Hong Kong to restore stability.”
Lawmakers in favor of democracy, along with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab, have criticized the law as causing the death of “one country, two systems.” Raab promised to take measures to protect the people of Hong Kong, which Britain made a commitment to defend when it agreed to return the territory under Chinese control.
Even the leaders of the pro-democratic opposition in Hong Kong say they were not allowed to see the text of the law until it was passed. Many in Hong Kong are still not 100% aware of the exact limitations of the law, which is the very definition of the Chinese rule of law instead of rule of law.
Whatever you say about Hong Kong, for decades it has been one of the few reliable jurisdictions in Asia where individuals can sue the government and have a chance to win. This pro-Western commitment to justice (which, as we learned from the traces and difficulties of Carlos Ghosn, does not even exist in Japan), has helped turn Hong Kong into the “gateway” of China to the west.
But now Beijing clearly sees Hong Kong’s concern as too much risk; and therefore the former golden goose is killed.
And while the protests are raging, ordinary Hong Kongers are struggling to remove protest signs from the business and clean up social media profiles and even text messages.
I walked around Mong Koku and ran into the depressing scene of this Hong Kong diner, filming the art of protest and signs affixed outside just hours after the adoption of the National Security Act, HK freedoms die in real time pic.twitter.com/hoBpEmGo1S
– Arman Dzidzovich (@ iamarman88) June 30, 2020
This fear, a sense of foreboding that even innocent actions could lead to disastrous consequences, has become an alarming new feature of life in Hong Kong.