Despite the withdrawal of the extradition bill, the protests in Hong Kong are continuing, as we expected. The protesters have adopted “Five Demands, Not One Less” as one of their slogans. They will not be satisfied with the easy half-measures taken by the HK government. Beijing and Carrie Lam’s leadership still don’t understand the movement. If they thought that just withdrawing the bill would end the protests, they were badly mistaken – again.
Protesters are now demanding accountability for the police that stormed subway stations last week, indiscriminately beating and pepper-spraying passengers that were not resisting, without ever even attempting to identify whether or not they were involved in the protests. Regardless of whether any of the passengers were involved in any protests – even if they had committed crimes – the police do not have the right to beat and pepper spray anyone that is not resisting. The protesters demand for accountability for police brutality – and there have been numerous instances of it documented clearly on video – is entirely reasonable. MTR, the company that operates the commuter trains in Hong Kong, must release the video captured on security cameras in the subway stations. Why refuse? Are they afraid that the video will reveal just how brutal and out of control the police were that day? Are they protecting the police? If not, then release the raw, unedited video. You can bet that if the video showed that the police acted reasonably, it would be released immediately. MTR’s refusal to release it shows that the HK government has something to hide. The protesters skepticism towards an “investigation” conducted by any agency or organization associated with the government, like the IPCC, is well-founded. The HK police have already tried to whitewash, justify, and coverup the brutality that was been committed by their comrades (we use the word intentionally).
More, um, enthusiastic members of the protest movement have continued to vandalize train stations and other infrastructure and to aggressively confront the police. We understand their thinking that peaceful protest is ineffective. They may even be correct. But without a doubt, the CCP propaganda machine will (continue) to do their best to turn public opinion against the protesters. The pro-democracy movement must be careful not to lose its base of support. On the other hand, the CCP’s pet media has been painting the movement as violent and unreasonable from the beginning, so it actually may not make any difference in that respect.
Either way, we hate to see violence continuing in Hong Kong. Many people have been injured, some quite seriously. One of the things that motivates the protesters targeting of MTR and demanding release of the security camera video from the train stations is their belief that some protesters were murdered by the police. After seeing video of the vicious beatings perpetrated by the police on the protesters, it is easy to understand why they think some might have been killed. But to be fair, some protesters have also attacked police when they’ve had a tactical advantage. We hope that both sides would step back from violent confrontations.
The question that remains, of course, is what is the end-game? Will Beijing back down, and allow for free and fair, truly democratic elections, in Hong Kong? It is exceedingly unlikely. Will the Hong Kong government allow for an in-depth, independent investigation of the Hong Kong police? Doubtful – but perhaps not completely out of the question. Will the protesters that have been arrested be released without charges? Carrie Lam said no, so probably not. Will Carrie Lam resign? She has said she won’t, but given that she has said she would like to, it is possible.
Where, and how, does it end?