Repression Against Activist Scholars in Hong Kong!4th May 2017 | By Kinman Chan | Category: Anti-Repression Initiative, News & Events
The Umbrella Movement (or Occupy Central) is a democracy movement fighting for universal suffrage in the election of the chief executive (head of the government) in Hong Kong. China had promised giving Hong Kong democracy before the handover of Hong Kong from United Kingdom to China in 1997. In Aug. 31, 2014, however, China made a decision that the election would not be an open and fair one. Though Hong Kong people would be given one-person-one-vote, the candidates shall be screened by a nominating committee practically controlled by China.
Students began to demonstrate in front of the government headquarters in late September, resulting in pepper spray attacks by the police. Leaders of the democracy movement, including professors and opposition party members, called for an occupation of the area around the headquarters to support the students. These leaders had been advocating a peaceful civil disobedience since 2013 to fight for a genuine universal suffrage. The police attempted to disperse the crowd by using tear-gas but people refused to leave and attracted even more people to join the occupation. At the end, according to a survey by The Chinese University of Hong Kong, around 1.2 million people had visited the occupation sites in the 79-day demonstration. Umbrella became a symbol of non-violent struggle because it was widely used during the occupation to protect the protestors from police’s pepper spray.
Even though the movement was unable to change China’s decision, it has inspired a whole generation of young people to understand the importance of democracy, freedom and autonomy. After more than two years, the Hong Kong government arrested the Umbrella activists, including Benny Tai (law professor at Hong Kong University), Kin-man Chan (sociology professor at Chinese University of Hong Kong) and Yiu-ming Chu (retired pastor of Baptist Church) among others. They are now facing three charges with maximum penalty of 7-year imprisonment for each. Prosecuting peaceful demonstrators for democracy is meant to create chilling effect in Hong Kong.
A signature movement by scholars from the globe has been launched to support these scholars and activists: https://sites.google.com/site/hksaaf/ Please support!