Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Spiralling Out of Control - Please Don't Harm Our (Humanity's) Children!

Governments' TERRIBLE policy decisions are escalating the anthropocene.

The New York Times reports that in Brazil Jair Bolsonaro has scaled back efforts to fight illegal logging, mining and farming, which have led to widespread destruction in the world’s largest rainforest

In the US, Trump has pushed to keep toxic pesticides in use despite significant empirical research showing clear impacts on children's neurological health and insect viability.

Trump has more generally sought to undo every environmental, health, and economic regulatory apparatus whose stated objective is to serve public purpose. Trump has suborned public purpose to private gain.

There are plenty of hidden supporters for this predatory approach to government.

The global backlash against inequalities and exploitation is UNDERWAY.

Unfortunately the growing global backlash is too often violent. I agree with the rights to free expression and demonstration but believe intentional violence will only create more violence.

Tragically the situation in Hong Kong illustrates how violence can spiral out of control.

China is now poised for escalating human rights abuses against the nation's youth in Hong Kong. I fear massacre.

Violence by official Chinese forces will not serve the intention of unification and will unite world opinion against China.  Brand China will suffer.


18 November 2019

Dear Friend,

As I write to you now, the Hong Kong Polytechnic University has been under siege by the police for almost twenty-four hours. We are in a desperate situation, facing potential bloodshed and disintegration of the movement for social justice in Hong Kong. Therefore, I beg of you to spare some time to read this long letter I am writing to you.

This is the situation as I understand it:

The students and their supporters have stayed on the Hong Kong Polytechnic University campus because it is located at the entrance of one of the cross-harbour tunnels. Their aim was to cause disruption of the traffic as part of the protest. This is the continuation of the same campaign that caused threats of police attack at the Chinese University, another university campus, early this week.
Yesterday 17th November Sunday late afternoon, the atmosphere on campus started to become tense.
Early evening the police announced that people inside the campus should leave, otherwise they would be considered rioters. There was no mechanism to make sure the message was successfully received by the students and their supporters inside, and there was no deadline for the permission to leave.
Shortly after the announcement, the students and their supporters found all entrances and exits closed off by the police. People who walked out of the campus including first-aid volunteers and journalists were searched, and some arrested.  

The President of the Polytechnic University Prof Teng Jinguang released a video this morning calling for students and protesters inside the campus to step out. He said he had received assurance from the police that they could leave the campus safely and he personally would accompany them to the police to ensure fair treatment, implying that they would be arrested. None of the University’s senior management have been seen on the campus to mediate since the crisis started.

From last night until now citizens have attempted to approach the campus to help the students and their protesters leave. A Catholic Cardinal, as well as pastors and Legislators have demanded to meet with the police commanders and the Chief Executive Carrie Lam, but their requests for a meeting were all declined.

Since this morning the students and their supporters inside the campus have made several attempts to leave, but were blocked off by the police who fired teargas and other projectiles at them. They had to turn back and take refuge inside the campus. 

Black-clad protesters have gathered in nearby areas and conflicts have broken out between them and police. Their alleged aim is to distract the police in order to allow the students and their supporters trapped inside the campus to find ways to leave. In one incident a 20-year old female protester was arrested with an injury. She was put in ambulance with two policemen. Protesters surrounded the ambulance to free her. During the incident the police fired three shots using live bullets. 
You might be baffled by the use of force on the part of the protesters, and may not understand how the movement has developed to reach this state. Let me share these personal observations with you:

The movement started as a Peaceful-Rational-NonViolent (和平理性非暴力, or 和理非) one, but the government has ignored the demands of the people after one million, then two million citizens participated in demonstrations against the Extradition (Amendment) Bill on June 9th and 12th. When the Chief Executive finally announced withdrawal of the Bill on 4th September, the anger of the people had already escalated to an uncontrollable extent.

The Peaceful-Rational-NonViolent demonstrators have continued to apply for a Letter of No Objection from the police to organise peaceful rallies, but many have failed. The right of peaceful, lawful assembly is being eroded.

The government’s blatant neglect of the people’s wishes has exposed the impossibility of democracy in our society under the current electoral system for the Legislative Council and the Chief Executive. As a result, the campaign has evolved into one that demands political reforms in Hong Kong to ensure genuine democracy. This is what we and our young people are fighting for.
Through June, July and August peaceful demonstrators in rallies have endured police beating and abuse without defence. Demonstrators remained peaceful until two landmark events took place: on 21st July thugs were employed to beat citizens with rods in Yuen Long who were travelling back from a peaceful rally. Many citizens called the police, but the police refused to intervene. Then, on 31st August the police entered Prince Edward Railway Station to beat passengers. The truth of what happened has been white-washed and is still hidden from society at large. Following these two and numerous other incidents of abuse of force by the police, protesters have themselves adopted tactics of force.

In the past months the police have increased their use of teargas in densely populated residential areas, shooting various kinds of projectiles directly at crowds and individuals. Many arrests have made, and the number of bodies of young people thrown down from buildings or found floating in the harbour has increased as compared to the same period in previous years, many in suspicious circumstances. There have been allegations of gang rape of female arrestees by the police during detention and of other physical abuse, including beating and prevention of medical treatment for the injured. Lawyers have also complained about delay in meeting their arrested clients.

The people of Hong Kong have demanded an independent commission of inquiry to be set up to investigate possible abuse of power by the police, either to stop it, or to clear the name of the police force, but this demand has been rejected by the Chief Executive Carrie Lam, who issued an open and blanket  assurance to the police force that she would not “sell them out” on 13th July, without commenting on the need to seek truth, maintain police discipline or uphold justice. 

In spite of the disruption caused by the protests, many Hong Kong citizens are firmly supporting the movement. This is evident in the continuous turn-out of people in protests, and the overwhelming support for the students in the Chinese University campus early this week when the campus was threatened with police attack. Many supporters who flocked to the campus have witnessed the students’ faith in defending Hong Kong’s freedom and limited democracy, and their resolution to make sacrifices for that belief. 

Many also commented that the tense and sombre atmosphere that night reminded them of the Tian’anmen Square events of 1989. Now, the hundreds of students and their supporters trapped in the campus of the Hong Kong Polytechnic University are threatened with the same potentially tragic but avoidable fate. I urge you to lend your help to us. There are many ways of doing it. One way is to write to the Hong Kong Chief Executive as an international academic to urge her to resolve the present crisis peacefully. I have drafted a template of this letter below. If you can help, please make whatever changes you consider suitable and send her your letter (Please scroll down below).

I would be very grateful if you could help, continue to pay attention to the development of our movement, and wish us well. If you happen to have Hong Kong students in your university, please look upon them kindly. It is a very difficult time for our young people studying overseas, who love their city deeply but far away from home at this trying time.

In solidarity,



I have noted with great concern the unjustified attack by riot police of the Chinese University of Hong Kong campus on 15th November, and the present siege of the Hong Kong Polytechnic University campus. I am writing to urge you to require the Hong Kong police force to respect academic campuses as places of learning that ought to be free from this kind of violence and intimidation by officers of the law. I also urge you to resolve the present crisis peacefully by ordering the police besieging the campus to stand down, so that the students inside the campus can leave without harm.

As a result of these actions universities in Hong Kong have closed for the current term, and overseas exchange students have decided or been advised to leave. As international academics, we deplore these acts of intrusion into university campuses, and seek your assurance that you will make it incumbent on the Hong Kong Police to respect the autonomy of places of learning. Not to do so would involve an attack on academic freedom and places of higher learning which violates all the principles of international law and human rights, and which would necessarily call for international sanctions. We would appreciate your considered response to this letter of grave concern regarding the safety of tertiary institutions in your city. 

Yours faithfully, 

Name, designation and affiliation

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.