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June 9, 2019 7:54 PM   Subscribe

A million people in the streets: Organisers say that one million people took to the streets to protest the controversial Hong Kong proposed extradition law. If those figures are correct, it represents 1 in 7 Hong Kong residents.

(I'm a Hong Kong resident, but not born here, and I would love it if MeFis who are either Hong Kong people or Hong Kongers in diaspora would chime in with your own links. I offer this because I think there's too much US focus, and this is a very important moment in Asia.)

The protest drew the biggest crowds since the 1997 handover and follows a silent march last week where 3000 lawyers and judges marched in black through the streets. Hong Kong people were supported by Hong Kongers around the world.

The protests turned violent during the night as police cleared protesters away from the LegCo.

The Law Society of Hong Kong has urged the government not to rush the controversial law through. It is also opposed by organisations like Amnesty International, with the open letter against it being co-signed by more than 70 other NGOs.

The reaction in Beijing was ominously critical, and as of writing the government response to the protests has disappointed many. The bill will be read again on Wednesday in front of the Legislative Council.
posted by frumiousb (63 comments total) 75 users marked this as a favorite
Thank you for posting this. I’m dismayed (though I shouldn’t be surprised) at the lack of US media on this. 1/7th of the population protesting is huge!
posted by greermahoney at 8:35 PM on June 9, 2019 [14 favorites]

Thank you for posting this. It’s being covered in Japan at least (noon radio news broadcast)
posted by sacchan at 8:55 PM on June 9, 2019

Guardian: Clashes in Hong Kong after vast protest against extradition law
Martin Lee QC, a pro-democracy figure and former legislator who helped organise the protests, told the Guardian: “If we lose this one, Hong Kong is not Hong Kong any more, it’s just another Chinese city.”

On Sunday evening Lee addressed thousands of people outside the government HQ. Thousands were yet to arrive, prompting speculation that the rally could turn into an Occupy-style event in the manner of protests in 2015 that went on for 89 days.

Lee said the government was “saying no to democracy and suppressing human rights and the rule of law”, and that if it did not listen he expected further, perhaps bigger protests on 1 July.
posted by Little Dawn at 8:59 PM on June 9, 2019 [8 favorites]

Thanks for this post. I heard about this briefly earlier today, and that number turning out to protest is just mind boggling.
posted by 2N2222 at 9:17 PM on June 9, 2019

NY Times is covering it with article and video: "Hong Kong March: Vast Protest of Extradition Bill Shows Fear of Eroding Freedoms."
posted by PhineasGage at 9:19 PM on June 9, 2019 [2 favorites]

@melissakchan [video]: This is an amazing time lapse of the hundreds of thousands of protesters in Hong Kong.
posted by zachlipton at 9:55 PM on June 9, 2019 [7 favorites]

I am a Hong Kong resident who moved to the city in 2012. In a few months I’ll be eligible for permanent residency.

The political situation in Hong Kong is totally unlike America’s and I encourage MeFites without much familiarity to read the links in this excellent post and do some research before posting here.

This law is really the make-or-break issue that will decide if we still have any semblance of civil liberties left and whether I stay or emigrate. I’m...not optimistic.

What may be hard for non-local people to imagine is how stacked the deck is against the pan-democrats, by design:

- at no point in Hong Kong’s history have local people run Hong Kong; there is no tradition of real local control without the interference of London or Beijing. We have never been independent or even just not a colony. We do not have a tradition of voting for our leader, who is appointed by a body of 1200 members of the elite, or for dog catcher or water resources management board members as the US does. There is no “run for something” movement and little respect given to those who choose to enter politics.

- decisions by the Court of Final Appeal, our Supreme Court, can be “re-interpreted” by Beijing, and are sometimes when the provisions of the Basic Law, our constitution, don’t provide answers the way Beijing would like

- Hong Kong’s legislature is only half directly elected by the people in geographical constituencies (like Kowloon West or Hong Kong Island East), and half elected by functional constituencies (i.e., a seat for civil engineers, insurance agents, or farmers), ensuring a pro-stability and essentially pro-business (read: pro-good relations with the Mainland) majority

- the pan-democrat side is hopelessly divided into lots of smaller political parties that cannot agree on a united front of candidates, policies or ideas; on bread-and-butter issues like the housing crisis and wages, the pro-Beijing side looks more coherent and has a track record of “delivering”, especially at a local level to elderly voters; sometimes this is a free lunch or a day trip somewhere nice

- political parties in Hong Kong are organised under the Companies Ordinance and are totally free to receive “donations” of millions of dollars from anyone, including Beijing

- a tiny, basically non-existent “independence” movement (which would be totally impractical given how most of our water and power comes from the Mainland...) has dominated headlines and spooked the pro-Beijing majority into wanting to push through this as well as Article 23 of the Basic Law, an anti-sedition law incompatible with free speech

- pro-democracy legislators elected fairly in free elections have been disqualified from their seats for not swearing the oath of office politely enough

- the leaders of the 2014 Umbrella Movement have been imprisoned on specious charges; a few have sought and received asylum in Germany

The thing that bothers me the most is that there are many examples globally of unfree or partly free developed societies where one can be safe and prosperous so long as you don’t rock the boat: Dubai, Singapore, Turkey to some extent...the list goes on; it’s not that unusual, and after all, people live and work and go to school in those societies every day. Very little would change for most middle-class and working-class Hong Kongers were these laws to pass, except, that is, in terms of their freedom. Wealthy Hong Kongers probably already have passports from other places and will just make plans to leave.

Realistically, Hong Kong is too useful to wealthy folks globally for it to change too much economically in the near future. Hong Kong is never going to stop being a capitalist city where corporate taxes are low and where wealthy people from the Mainland can (for example) launder money by buying insurance policies in yuan and then cashing them out in dollars, or where the wealthy buy a flat sight-unseen as a better vehicle for savings than a bank account. In fact, if this law passes, quite a few people will be happy to see more stability and security.

But what supporters of the law fail to see is that the democracy dividend is part of our uniqueness, and is what keeps us afloat. Take away our personal freedoms and there’s no reason to invest or live here when you can get a higher rate of return on a flat in Shanghai or Guangzhou. Take away the rule of law and the presence of Gucci stores will not matter when you get plucked off the streets by plainclothes policemen and spirited away to a labour camp for something you wrote on a message board. Tourists and business people still visit China all the time; there’s no real backlash against the erosion of freedoms in Hong Kong, partly because we are a historical irrelevance - you don’t need us to enter the Chinese market anymore like you did in 1990, say.

Our consumer society and capitalist way of life will not save us, despite their outward resemblance to the way things are in France or Canada or Australia. Democracy could end tomorrow in Hong Kong - tanks in the streets, Cantonese banned, political prisoners taken, the Basic Law torn up - and the world would shrug. Capital values China as a whole too much to rock the boat, and seems fine with a million Uighurs in detention and a country that convicts 99.9% of suspects on trial.

Is there a lesson here for non-Hong Kongers? Maybe it’s this: value the rights you have and defend them to the extent you are able. Look at Poland reversing its government’s draconian proposal to limit abortions, or the way Ireland got gay marriage. Political change is possible even when things look bleak; it just takes real work.
posted by mdonley at 11:22 PM on June 9, 2019 [105 favorites]

I’m sorry, I did read the links, plus about an hour of additional reading, and still did not understand. I apologize that I caused offense by my questions. I have asked the mods to remove my post.
posted by SecretAgentSockpuppet at 12:07 AM on June 10, 2019

It wasn’t about you personally, SecretAgentSockpuppet, and thank you for your research - it’s just exhausting to have every single non-US politics post refer back to the US, so I wanted to encourage MeFites to consider this.
posted by mdonley at 12:11 AM on June 10, 2019 [2 favorites]

Thank you for posting this, OP. I live in Europe; I don’t have any useful perspective. I’m just really glad I found out about it and hope that you and mdonley are safe. Is there anything Hong Kong MeFites might want the rest of us to do in support?
posted by Bella Donna at 12:16 AM on June 10, 2019

Mod note: Just as a quick note: for folks who are interested in getting some grounding in underlying political structure, goals, factions, etc., I often suggest an Ask Metafilter post, which is helpful also for others who are seeing things in the news but don't necessarily understand some aspects of the mechanics (ie, Brexit, Yellow Vests, etc.).
posted by taz (staff) at 1:16 AM on June 10, 2019 [4 favorites]

I was thinking about writing a post on this but felt way under-equipped to give full context, so I really appreciate you pulling this together. I look forward to digging into the links. The images I saw on twitter and the turnout estimates are just absolutely stunning.
posted by obfuscation at 3:47 AM on June 10, 2019 [2 favorites]

I grew up in Hong Kong - from the age of six or so until I left for uni in 2005. I don't have a lot to add - I've been reading everything I can about this, and appreciate the post. This is a hugely important issue. Beijing overreach and interference in HK politics has been a growing and very ominous trend.
posted by Dysk at 4:04 AM on June 10, 2019 [4 favorites]

Thank you for posting this, frumiousb, and additional thanks to mdonley for the additional context.
posted by basalganglia at 4:08 AM on June 10, 2019 [1 favorite]

Thanks for posting, this is not appearing in the algorithmical news feeds here in Brazil. Global unfiltered perspective, with local commentary; I love Mefi!

Incidentally, I've been studying some hanzi and am curious about something. In this photo, on the sign held by the woman in sunglasses on the left, on the second line in red, I can identify the first two characters as 中国 zhōngguó. But is the third character 人 rén, or is it something else? What does the fourth character that looks like a 9 mean?
posted by Tom-B at 4:47 AM on June 10, 2019

Those aren't hanzi, they're hiragana (への); the sign is in Japanese and says, "The abduction of Hong Kongers to China is not legal!"
posted by Strutter Cane - United Planets Stilt Patrol at 4:56 AM on June 10, 2019 [3 favorites]

Oh I see! But why would a protester in Hong Kong be holding a sign in Japanese?
posted by Tom-B at 5:40 AM on June 10, 2019

A lot of protest signs are made explicitly for international media to photograph — which is why you’ll often see handwritten signs in English at protests around the world by people who don’t speak it. Maybe the same thing going on with Japanese here.
posted by vogon_poet at 5:49 AM on June 10, 2019 [9 favorites]

Thank you for posting this, frumiosmb. It feels like the world is falling apart, like we're in the worst timeline. I've read through each link but now I'm going to go back and really digest everything.

Is there anything Hong Kong MeFites might want the rest of us to do in support?

Seconding this. What can the rest of us do? Amplify? Donate?
posted by cooker girl at 8:03 AM on June 10, 2019 [1 favorite]

The slogan of the protests is a really good pun. It's 反送中, "against sending (people) to China". But it also sounds like 送終, "sending off a dying relative". So the implied meaning is like "we won't let Hong Kong die".

On a lighter note: From a Hong Kong porn site urging users to head out to march against the #ExtraditionBill: "Hong Kong is dying. And you're still jacking off??"
posted by airmail at 9:44 AM on June 10, 2019 [9 favorites]

I was in HK just a few days ago, and saw a really sad sort of home made street announcement - hand drawn banner of plain A4 sheets, a couple guys handing out leaflets and one on a microphone. I watched for a while and eventually asked one of them what it was about.

I am really surprised. Based on the crowd reactions at the time, I thought it was a tiny fringe group and nothing would come of it.

Can't really say much more within China, my visa is up for renewal shortly.
posted by Meatbomb at 9:50 AM on June 10, 2019 [2 favorites]

I live in Taipei and people here have been following everything that's been happening in Hong Kong. In some ways we're both fighting the same fight, trying to maintain our independence from a government that is so much more overwhelmingly powerful than we are. We're watching. We support you. Keep fighting.

More personally: my dad's from Hong Kong, and I've visited HK with him countless times. Hong Kong feels special, and I hate seeing China tighten its grip.
posted by storytam at 11:01 AM on June 10, 2019 [6 favorites]

It's so sad, and the CCP knows it can act with impunity, the world will do nothing.
posted by smoke at 2:23 PM on June 10, 2019 [1 favorite]

I guess it wouldn't be surprising for anybody to know that the Great Firewall is working as intended, and internet sites in Mainland are keeping mum. I have seen only a couple of oblique references to the HK protests in my Weibo feed so far.
posted by em at 9:40 AM on June 11, 2019 [3 favorites]

Hong Kong’s legislature will fast-track its consideration of a widely unpopular proposed law that would allow people to be extradited to China, as opposition groups vowed renewed protests and some unions said they supported a strike Wednesday. From the Wall St. Journal, paywalled. That's all I could get.
posted by Bella Donna at 1:02 PM on June 11, 2019

I don't have much energy to write a long explanation here - but I'm HK born and bred, left when I was 17 but went back just in time for the Umbrella Movement in 2014. That was a transformational experience for me and many other young people - the adrenaline, euphoria, utter communal spirit, the audacious hope that something so huge would finally give us universal suffrage... then bitter disappointment and paralysation when China and our gov just stamped on us harder and harder with every jailed and disqualified elected legislator post-2016. It's frankly incredible how young activists and pro-dems have still managed to keep fighting every move even though it keeps getting worse and worse.

I've been involved in activism ever since, mostly overseas. A few of us just organised the London protest in solidarity with the 1mil HK one, and 3-4000 (!!!) showed up when we were expecting 200. It took us 1h to walk 1.7km from the Chinese Embassy to the HK Trade Office. I think that was the feeling in HK too, as organisers there were hoping for 300 thousand before everything exploded.

Compared to the Umbrella protests, the feeling this time is desperation. We were hoping and fighting for something better then; now we're against the wall, trying to cling to what we still have. If this bill passes (as it most likely will) I think a deep hopelessness will take over and people will be trying to leave by any means possible. Everyone feels its the last battle for the city we know and love.

Right now there's crazy tension on the streets - young people being intimidated and searched indiscriminately by cops, police violence, etc. all because they fear an occupation of the legislative building tomorrow in an attempt to physically stop the reading. People are fuming and trying to do anything they can think of re civil disobedience. I think a general (plus student) strike seems to brewing. No one has any idea what each day would bring and I'm only hoping it won't end in bloodshed and deaths. It's hard to watch from overseas and not being able to do much to help - I'm burnt out stuck to my phone all day with a million messages about what we should, can do next, everyone disagreeing... we're just trying to apply pressure on the UK gov now via MPs and petitions, but it all feels so futile.
posted by monocot at 4:29 PM on June 11, 2019 [13 favorites]

The South China Morning Post is LiveBlogging today's events.

Thousands of mostly students are blocking all the roads to the LegCo and succeeded in delaying the new reading of the bill. They have both LegCo and the government headquarters surrounded. Police are currently firing tear gas and beanbag rounds.

I have no idea where this is going to go.
posted by frumiousb at 1:23 AM on June 12, 2019

And there's the answer, nowhere good. Police have officially declared it a riot.
posted by frumiousb at 1:34 AM on June 12, 2019 [1 favorite]

A riot declaration, it should be said, never happened during Occupy in 2014. Carrie Lam does not want another Occupy on her hands, and does not want this to be her legacy as Occupy was CY Leung’s. This won’t end well and is a sign the law will pass.
posted by mdonley at 1:50 AM on June 12, 2019 [1 favorite]

Agree. Riot carries a penalty of 10 years in jail for participation,.

Here's a link to a twitter video showing protesters breaking through the police barracades. Rumor has it that rubber bullets are being used.
posted by frumiousb at 1:54 AM on June 12, 2019

Evan Fowler has a piece here in the Hong Kong Free Press on why he’s pessimistic about the outcome here, and how we’ve already passed the end of One Country, Two Systems.
posted by mdonley at 2:53 AM on June 12, 2019 [1 favorite]

Another Twitter video of police trying to push back protestors (or perhaps people just trying to get out of Admiralty at rush hour) with shields and water on a crowded pedestrian bridge over Drake Street (map here).

The MTR has also opened the gates so passengers can get to the platforms at Admiralty without needing to beep in their Octopus cards or use tickets, which normally takes a fraction of a second, because such is the volume of people trying to leave Admiralty that the MTR has said passengers can explain to staff when they alight in the suburbs that they boarded at Admiralty and they'll be let out. Opening the fare gates is something that normally only happens when a station needs to be evacuated; fare evasion is very low to non-existent here so I can see this working as a one-off.

People outside Hong Kong should know that this level of police response is a far, far stronger response than we saw with Occupy Central in 2014 - and the riot declaration in the area around the busiest transport interchange in the city right before rush hour seems pretty well designed to intimidate. The government wants this to end and they want it to end now.
posted by mdonley at 4:17 AM on June 12, 2019 [8 favorites]

The basic summary from last night's JFM Nightwatch (paid subscription analysis newsletter, so no link) seems to be that while protestors have caused the government to modify the amendments (extradition only for serious crimes having a sentence of at least seven years), Chief Executive Lam is clearly under orders and is committed to enacting the amendments. This is supported by statements by Geng Shuang (Foreign Ministry spokesman):

I'd like to stress two things. First, the Central Government will continue to support the Hong Kong SAR government in advancing the amendments to the two ordinances. Second, we resolutely oppose the wrong words and deeds of any foreign forces that interfere in the SAR's legislation.
posted by Comrade_robot at 6:30 AM on June 12, 2019 [1 favorite]

Hong Kong Police Use Tear Gas, Rubber Bullets In Clash With Protesters (Scott Neuman for NPR, June 12, 2019)
Riot police in Hong Kong fired rubber bullets, tear gas and water cannons at protesters Wednesday, in an effort to break up demonstrations that blockaded the city's Legislative Council. The unrest forced lawmakers to delay debate on a controversial extradition bill that critics say would expose Hong Kong residents to China's legal system.

The South China Morning Post reports, "In a fresh display of defiance ... protesters who had camped overnight at Tamar Park in Hong Kong began stopping traffic from accessing the legislature on Wednesday morning, as the government's proposal returns to a full council meeting."

On social media, video circulated of police using truncheons to beat one protester.
posted by filthy light thief at 8:14 AM on June 12, 2019 [2 favorites]

I am very much outside looking in on this, but I have friends and family with ties to and living in HK, and I can't believe what I'm seeing on their Facebook feeds. A man backing up and getting shot in the face with a rubber bullet. A dozen police officers swarming a single man and throwing him to the ground. Videos and photos with the request 請廣傳 - please share. On the heels of the 30th anniversary of the Tiananmen Massacre, this is a tough and bitter pill to swallow.

I came across this article on how 3.5% of the population is all that's needed to effect change (and how non-violent movements are more effective than violent ones): how ardently I wish that could be true! However, I suspect Evan Fowler's analysis is correct: the bill will pass, the CCP always gets its way. But HKers aren't giving up without a fight, and I hope all of our HK Mefites stay safe.
posted by invokeuse at 7:08 PM on June 12, 2019 [2 favorites]

Surveillance-savvy Hong Kong protesters go digitally dark:
Many said they turned off their location tracking on their phones and beefed up their digital privacy settings before joining protests, or deleted conversations and photos on social media and messaging apps after they left the demonstrations.

There were unusually long lines at ticket machines in the city underground metro stations as protesters used cash to buy tickets rather than tap-in with the city's ubiquitous Octopus cards -- whose movements can be more easily tracked.

Hong Kong protest leaders call for Sunday rally, city-wide strike:
Jimmy Chan from the Civil Human Rights Front, the main protest group, on Thursday called for a mass rally to be held on Sunday with a city-wide strike to follow on Monday.

"[We] will fight until the end with Hong Kong people," he told reporters, adding that he had applied for permission to hold the weekend rally.

"When facing ignorance, contempt and suppression, we will only be stronger, there will only be more Hong Kong people".
posted by storytam at 8:13 AM on June 13, 2019 [1 favorite]

A Tense Calm Settles Over Hong Kong After Violence Between Police And Protesters (Scott Neuman for NPR, June 13, 2019)
Authorities in Hong Kong closed government offices in the city's Central district after violent clashes between police and protesters brought the bustling financial hub to a standstill.

Hong Kong Police Use Tear Gas, Rubber Bullets In Clashes With Thousands Of Protesters
Hong Kong Police Use Tear Gas, Rubber Bullets In Clashes With Thousands Of Protesters
The situation was still tense on Thursday, a day after riot police fired tear gas and rubber bullets in an effort to push back protesters trying to storm government offices. Earlier in the day, tens of thousands of people blockaded the city's Legislative Council to protest a proposed bill to allow the extradition of Hong Kong residents to mainland China.

The protests on Wednesday had forced the predominantly pro-Beijing Legislative Council to delay a second reading of the extradition bill and lawmakers said Thursday that no further debate on the legislation has been scheduled in the wake of the unrest.

The BBC reports that at least 72 people ranging in age from 15 to 66 were injured in Wednesday's violence.

Hong Kong police Chief Stephen Lo said 11 people were arrested in Wednesday's protests. He said 22 officers were wounded in the confrontations.
Hong Kong extradition protests leave city in shock (BBC, June 13, 2019)
The second reading, or debate over the extradition bill was originally scheduled for Wednesday.

In an attempt to prevent lawmakers from participating in the debate, activists in the tens of thousands blockaded key streets around the government headquarters in central Hong Kong. Police were also out in riot gear.

Later the tensions boiled over as protesters tried to storm key government buildings demanding the bill be scrapped.

Police responded by firing tear gas and rubber bullets to block them and get them to disperse. After hours of chaos, the crowd eventually dissipated overnight.

Rights group Human Rights Watch accused the police of using "excessive force" against protesters.
Both articles focus more on the protesters, making them look like the dangerous ones, rather than the potential impact of the bill, and/or the police's use of force (though my choice of blockquotes doesn't support that).
posted by filthy light thief at 8:42 AM on June 13, 2019 [1 favorite]

This is a good article deep diving into the young protesters’ mindset and motivations:
posted by monocot at 11:28 AM on June 13, 2019 [1 favorite]

A Top Hong Kong Adviser Calls For Delay In Extradition Bill To 'Mollify The Public' (Scott Neuman for NPR, June 14, 2019)
A top Hong Kong adviser says he is recommending a reevaluation of the government's fast-track approach to a controversial extradition bill that has sparked mass protests and the territory's worst violence in years.

Meanwhile, authorities in the city prepared for more demonstrations planned over the weekend.

In a radio call-in program on RTHK on Friday, Executive Council convener Bernard Chan, who advises Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam, acknowledged that he had underestimated opposition to the measure, particularly from the business community.

"I think it is impossible to discuss [the bill] under such confrontation. It would be very difficult," Chan said, according to The South China Morning Post.

He said he had urged the territory's government to reevaluate the situation.
On Friday, the Central district around Admiralty, where the protests had been concentrated, was mostly calm, but a demonstration by mothers angry over police use of force was expected and other protests were planned for Sunday and Monday, the AP reports.
AP's headline is "Calls mount for compromise over unpopular Hong Kong bill" which actually talks to the reason for the protests, not just about actions to make protesters happy.
posted by filthy light thief at 10:22 AM on June 14, 2019

Hong Kong leader suspends extradition bill amid protest pressure (Guardian)
Hong Kong’s leader, Carrie Lam, has been forced into a humiliating concession after a week of mass protests, promising to indefinitely suspend efforts to pass a controversial new extradition law ahead of another demonstration that has been called for Sunday. Lam’s announcement represented perhaps the most serious government climbdown in the face of public pressure since a security law was dropped in 2003, an important democratic moment for a city where people are free to demonstrate but not able to choose their leaders.

However, opponents warned they saw it more as a tactical retreat than an admission of defeat, aimed at buying time to intimidate or demoralise opponents. There have already been reports of arrests in hospitals, as people sought treatment, and of digital activists.

“You can say it was a partial victory, in the sense she has halted this bill at this moment,” said the opposition lawmaker Charles Mok. “We are not celebrating. Many of us were still not satisfied that she hasn’t withdrawn it completely, and the way she talked about police [brutality].”

He joined other activists and critics in urging residents to take to the streets again on Sunday to keep up pressure on the government and chief executive. Lam has proved a lightening rod for protesters, with many demanding her resignation.

In a combative press conference after three days of silence, Lam repeatedly described herself as “heartbroken”, and admitted that the bill had “caused a lot of division” in Hong Kong. But she insisted her only errors were of communication, defended the law as vital to security and promised to relaunch an improved version after further consultation. She also played down the size of demonstrations and repeatedly claimed police use of force was defensive.

Earlier in the week she added fuel to public anger when she doubled down on support for the law and criticised protesters who had endured a day of teargas, rubber bullets and police beatings as “spoiled children”.

Her abrupt reversal – reportedly made after meeting with one of China’s most powerful leaders on Friday – was apparently aimed at warding off further chaos on Sunday, although Lam denied she was trying to appease the crowds. “The decision I made is not about pacifying people or, as some have said, restoring my damaged reputation,” Lam told journalists, claiming she acted to stop violence escalating. “This is time to restore as quickly as possible calmness in society.”
posted by Little Dawn at 11:38 AM on June 15, 2019 [3 favorites]

Back home after walking through the larger protest today; we cancelled classes this afternoon so colleagues could get home safely before traffic was snarled and the MTR overwhelmed.

There was a solid line of people from Tamar Park to Victoria Park, and half a road's worth of people extending up to Fortress Hill and North Point station. (Google Maps link)

Five kilometres/three miles of people, all in black.

Here's an SCMP link to what's currently a live blog.

posted by mdonley at 5:06 AM on June 16, 2019 [6 favorites]

'Almost two million' (RTHK link) out of a total population of 7.4 million marched today, according to the organisers.
posted by mdonley at 9:12 AM on June 16, 2019 [4 favorites]

From Pacific Standard, updated June 10: Hong Kong Artist Perry Dino is Chronicling His City's Struggle for Democracy. "Protest painting, it's always a little bit dangerous," Dino says, acknowledging that the possibility of arrest is ever present. But to him the risk is worth it for what he's able to create: a record, traced in oil paint, that shows the people of Hong Kong using their voices freely. Even after a 2016 bout of pancreatitis caused in part by exhaustion from doggedly recording protest after protest, Dino is determined not to abandon his work recording the city’s tumultuous present. As the rights of Hong Kong's public slowly erode, he continues to don his "uniform" and wield his paints and canvas as witness to a city's struggle for self-determination against overwhelming odds.
posted by Bella Donna at 11:13 AM on June 16, 2019 [3 favorites]

Given the size, has there been any in-depth political demography of the protestors? Are they coming from specific political groups, or is it to a large degree cutting across political groups that are normally in opposition or focus on different issues? Are different groups, such as pro-business groups and Democrat party, coming together for this? And the students, what is their political consciousness?
The news articles don't really go into this aspect. One article did mention in the context of Monday's strike that HK labor unions don't have much clout in HK. It's interesting to note that the expanded list of demands, while concrete, are generally on the left without having to be specific as to where on the left you might identify.
posted by polymodus at 2:49 PM on June 16, 2019

I haven't seen any demographic look at the protesters. The churches were very active and engaged. It's honestly a little bit difficult to explain Hong Kong politics. There are many parties and all of it revolves around Basic Law. This little video explains how the LegCo is formed. It doesn't break neatly into right and left.
posted by frumiousb at 5:33 PM on June 16, 2019 [3 favorites]

'They're kids, not rioters': new generation of protesters bring Hong Kong to standstill (Guardian)
Organisers claimed that nearly 2 million people turned out on Sunday, which would make the demonstration the largest in Hong Kong’s history. They poured in from all over the city, in numbers so large that the march route had to be extended, and then widened, halting all traffic outside government headquarters. Echoes of protest songs, hymns and chants bounced off the surrounding high rises as darkness fell and then into the evening, hours after the early afternoon start of the protest, which remained peaceful throughout.

It was an extraordinary show of grassroots political power in a city where residents cannot choose their leaders but are free to take to the streets to denounce them. Veteran activists with years of protest experience walked beside novices who had little interest in politics until this crisis flared up.

“Before this week I had never been on a protest,” said 28-year-old Lau. “But I am a teacher, and I realised if I didn’t come I wouldn’t be able to face my students. This is their future.” Like many others, she had been unnerved by the arrests of activists and did not want her full name printed.
Hong Kong protests: pressure builds on Carrie Lam as public rejects apology (Guardian)
For most of Monday morning a small group of protestors still blocked a key road outside government headquarters, but by midday they had retreated to a nearby park. Authorities said government offices would be closed for the day. Strikes of students and workers also had been called by protest organisers for Monday, and although most of the city was working as usual, the opposition movement got fresh impetus with the release of prominent activist Joshua Wong, who had been jailed over his role leading pro-democracy movements in 2014. [...]

Chinese censors have been working hard to erase or block news of the latest series of protests – the largest since crowds demonstrated against the bloody suppression of pro-democracy activists in and around Beijing’s Tiananmen Square in June 1989. There has been little coverage of the demonstration in state owned media, with any reports focused on accusations of “foreign meddling”. State-run tabloid Global Times [...] in an editorial warned the United States against using Hong Kong as a “bargaining chip” in trade talks. “The riots in Hong Kong will only consolidate Beijing’s tough stance against Washington,” it said.
Hong Kong police begin to clear streets of protesters (AP)
After daybreak Monday, police announced that they want to clear the streets of protesters in the morning. Soon after, police lined up several officers deep and faced off against several hundred demonstrators on a street in central Hong Kong. The police asked for cooperation in clearing the road. Protesters replied with chants, some kneeling in front of the officers.

Crowds had gathered well after dark outside the police headquarters and Chief Executive Carrie Lam’s office. [...] Periodically, the shouts of the protesters standing shoulder-to-shoulder in front of the police headquarters would crescendo into a roar that reverberated through the narrow concrete canyons of the red-light district of Wanchai. [...] The crowds filled a wide thoroughfare and side streets paralleling the waterfront of Victoria Harbor as tourists and shoppers who drive much of the Asian financial hub’s economy looked on. [...]

Protesters have mainly focused their anger on Lam, who had little choice but to carry through dictates issued by Beijing, where President Xi Jinping has enforced increasingly authoritarian rule.
posted by Little Dawn at 11:38 PM on June 16, 2019 [1 favorite]

BBC: Hong Kong extradition: How radical youth forced the government's hand

Written by an old classmate of mine!
posted by Dysk at 2:45 AM on June 17, 2019 [2 favorites]

Why These Hong Kong Protests Are Different
Hong Kong’s recent protests have drawn comparisons to the 2014 Umbrella Movement demonstrations, which saw young protesters occupy thoroughfares for 79 days to call for universal suffrage for Hong Kong. There are, however, significant differences, perhaps the most obvious of them being the lack of a clear leader. Five years ago, Joshua Wong, just a teenager at the time, rose to be the central figure of the movement. Time magazine put him on its cover, and the Financial Times called him “the teen doing battle with Beijing.” Wong was released Monday morning after serving nearly five weeks in jail on charges stemming from his involvement in the 2014 protests. Moments after being escorted from jail, he called for Lam to step down and the extradition bill to be withdrawn.

No single person has risen to Wong’s status this time around, but the Civil Human Rights Front—a coalition of 50 organizations, including pro-democracy political parties—has been instrumental in building and helping sustain the protest movement, and in the process has obtained remarkable results, even if incomplete by its own measure.
posted by homunculus at 12:00 PM on June 19, 2019 [2 favorites]

Here's a translation of the protest manual from the last big set of demonstrations in Hong Kong: Manual of Disobedience

Via this great Twitter thread.
posted by homunculus at 12:05 PM on June 19, 2019 [4 favorites]

Lanugage Log: Hong Kong protest slogan - "The main slogan of the Hong Kong protesters is "faan2 sung3 Zung1 反送中" ("against being sent to China; against extradition to China"). The sung3 Zung1 送中" ("extradition to China") part of the slogan is echoed by the expression sung3zung1 送終 ("attend upon a dying relative; mourning; pay one's last respects; bury one's parent"). Consequently, when the protesters shout "faan2 sung3 Zung1 反送中" ("against being sent to China; against extradition to China"), they are also simultaneously and paranomastically exclaiming that they are against the death [of Hong Kong] (faan2 sung3zung1 反送終)."
posted by the man of twists and turns at 10:34 AM on June 20, 2019 [1 favorite]

Have been sent home early from work. Watch this space.
posted by mdonley at 12:10 AM on June 21, 2019 [2 favorites]

The protests are continuing in a more media-savvy way than what I remember from the past - there have been loud sit-ins at Immigration and Revenue Towers yesterday and today and tomorrow (Wednesday the 26th) there’s a march to different consulates of countries attending the G20 meeting in Osaka.
posted by mdonley at 9:52 PM on June 24, 2019 [1 favorite]

Thousands of protesters urge G20 to back anti-extradition law movement

However, China has said they will not allow discussion on what they see as a purely internal matter.
posted by frumiousb at 5:09 PM on June 26, 2019 [1 favorite]

In a major escalation, protestors took over the (empty, because it's Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Day today, a public holiday) Legislative Council debating chamber, defaced the walls and painted over the city's emblem. (The black banner hanging at the front in the image linked above reads 'There are no rioters, only a violent regime.', in reference to the rioting charges from the June 12 protest, according to Verna Yu at the Guardian.)

This kind of violence against public institutions is, I think, unprecedented, and will overshadow the hundreds of thousands of peaceful protestors who marched today as they do every July 1st. Fernando Cheung, a leading Pan-Democratic lawmaker, called it a trap the government had set.

I cannot see this ending well for the protestors or for our civil liberties, and I cannot see most people here supporting this; I even think it hastens the arrival of Article 23, the anti-sedition law that's part of the Basic Law Beijing very much wants us to pass, and perhaps will lead to the scrapping of the Basic Law altogether, in violation of the Sino-British Joint Declaration (which set up post-1997 Hong Kong and which Britain, in the throes of the Tory PM election and Brexit, has no authority in the city to impose).

I now fear that a hard-pro-Beijing candidate like Regina Ip will replace Carrie Lam as CE, who now cannot demonstrate to Beijing or to the business community that she has any authority to lead. Incredibly, Carrie Lam has still not addressed or met the protestors, perhaps because doing so would be seen as legitimising their methods; to Hong Kongers with familiarity with democratically-elected governments elsewhere (which is basically all of us), she looks utterly powerless.

I'm logging in to work email to see if we need to go in tomorrow. Nobody wants tanks in the streets but this is how you get tanks in the streets.
posted by mdonley at 7:37 AM on July 1, 2019 [3 favorites]

Well, that was fast. The few dozen protestors left in the chamber left LegCo on their own and have been replaced by police, who've just moved into the building. Some tear gas canisters were fired into the crowd of hundreds of protestors outside still. The last MTR train across the harbour leaves in about thirty minutes and I imagine most protestors will want to go home soon anyway.

is trashed - not just the debating chamber but digital information kiosks, the gift shop, etc. The damage is going to tip the balance for protestors facing legal repercussions into rioting territory and will delegitimise the protests and their broad goals in the eyes of many.
posted by mdonley at 9:23 AM on July 1, 2019 [2 favorites]

Off to bed now. The police are taking over the roads around LegCo. Follow on SCMP's liveblog here.
posted by mdonley at 9:44 AM on July 1, 2019 [1 favorite]

July 9th update: Carrie Lam still - still - won't withdraw the law. More protests are planned around the city.

This political crisis (and hopefully this city...) isn't going away anytime soon, though this thread will soon close! Thanks to everyone who read, contributed in this post and hopefully learned a bit more about this crazy, beautiful, infuriating corner of the world. I'm proud of my fellow Hongkongers and excited to become one, permanently, in September. Come visit!
posted by mdonley at 3:18 AM on July 9, 2019 [3 favorites]

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